Are you nuts?

On my better days, yes.

 

I mean, you left a perfectly good teaching job to move to London to start a writing career? Seems insane to me.

“Perfectly good teaching job” is a relative term. The school was on the brink of bankruptcy, and I was making all of $9200 a year. I knew I had to make my move then, because in a year there would be no more school. In a way I had it made there: I could teach anything I liked in my courses, Tolstoy and Nabokov stories, novels by Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry and Virginia Woolf—even a Ulysses seminar for juniors and seniors, which today would get me sent before a Republican morals committee, and I really liked my students. Most of them anyway. You know who you are.

There are no potholes on Memory Lane. No ruts, no broken bottles, no dead squirrels, no speed traps, nothing but green trees and pretty flowers and a road bathed in sunlight. It’s a well-kept place, the past, for even the bad neighborhoods seem in retrospect to have had that little bit of charm which you’d somehow forgotten. School hallways, once the province of bully and beggar alike—“Can I hold a dollar? No? Then I’m gonna kill you”—, lose their grim associations; the headmaster’s office, redolent of pipe tobacco and reeking of punishment, now seems quaint and harmless. The gingerbread cottages of lost loves and broken hearts, the humble bungalows of misplaced affections, the hills and dales of jobs gracefully offered and just as easily taken away—once they’re behind you they lose their weight and value. They become picture postcards, tinted by loving hands, hidden in the back of a drawer, waiting to be rescued by nostalgia.

It was a job, after all, and back then jobs were hard to come by, especially if you’d just been awarded a Master of Arts in English literature, which was more or less a passport to oblivion. Once upon a time, of course, a higher degree in English could get you places, say on an editorial board of a literary magazine or in a halfway-decent publishing house as a gofer on the fast track to becoming an associate editor. Back in the day it was like having a higher degree in philosophy; it meant you knew stuff. At some point I came to this crossroads, and instead of falling down on my knees like Robert Johnson and selling my soul to the Devil, decided not to become a rock star or a lawyer and opted to become an English major. Had I chosen the first I’d now be playing bass in a reunion band in oceanside casinos and amusement parks up and down the East Coast. Middle-aged people would sit and fan themselves while they vaguely remembered seeing us back in their murky pasts, when they were hip and cool and, of course, considerably less middle-aged and had better hair.

A lot of people back then had nicknames. This was done for legal reasons as much as for vanity. Although at the time I was maybe the third most paranoid person in the city (I even worked at an East Village store called Paranoia, where I was unofficial poster-boy for the cause), I did not have a front name, as some called it, though in high school I’d been dubbed “The Doctor” by my obnoxious English teacher: thus named because five minutes before class was dismissed I’d pack my briefcase (we carried attaché cases, like something Don Draper might possess to go along with his narrow tie, great hair and seductive inscrutability), as though I were on my way to my next surgical procedure.

The death of Augustus Owsley Stanley III last week immediately made me see, resting in the palm of my hot little hand, that iconic purple tablet engraved with a tiny image of Batman on its convex surface. In a novel I recently completed, Airtight, the prologue, set thirty years before the story actually begins—it’s the tale of two desperate middle-aged men, now out of work and in debt, who return to their old college to dig up drugs they’d buried three decades earlier in hopes of selling it and getting back on their feet—details an acid trip, in fact my last, taken when I was at my first college. The same college that decided, after two years of me, that I was “socially unacceptable.” Which I think was more true than they suspected at the time.

For reasons best known to my youthful mind, I ended up in a college in southern Indiana, some twenty miles south of Indianapolis (known then as “Naptown,” which I fervently believed had something to do with the fact that, unlike my native New York, there was nothing to do there but sleep). This was an accident, I must confess, an aberration of sorts, and in the end a kind of hilarious mistake. I should have gone to college in New England (which I eventually did) or California, but I ended up in what was most certainly part of the American South.

On my first night there I, and various others from my dorm, were walking to some sort of social event thrown for incoming freshmen. One of these guys stopped me and said, as though reciting lines from a very bad anti-drug movie, “Now that you’re no longer living at home, you might want to consider trying something a little mind-bending.” He handed me a lit joint. As I puffed away he went on, “Of course it probably won’t hit you the first time, and you may have to try it again—“ But by that time I was half out of my mind with glee. I said, “Where can I get more of this stuff?”

By the end of the school year I was addicted to crystal meth and was smoking anything anyone offered me. I spent that summer—what has become known as “The Summer of Love” (though I would call it the Summer of Very Good Dope)—living in the West Village and working on weekends at a store on East 10th Street that sold consignment articles, provided free macrobiotic stew (which I sometimes was asked to cook up, a tasteless, thin, nauseating thing that we served to runaways from Scarsdale, while we, who worked there, ate pastrami sandwiches from the 2nd Avenue Deli), and offered the comforts of a day-glo trip room as well as a “meditation room,” fully outfitted with Indian music, incense and, to the pleasure of some, mattresses. We also sold underground newspapers from all over the country as well as the usual paraphernalia of the drug culture—pipes and screens and such. Once, before coming to work on a busy Saturday night, I shared a joint with the same guy who offered me one that first night of college—his cousin owned the shop and he lived a few blocks away—grass so potent that not long after I stationed myself on the store’s window seat as the crowds of tourists and hippies started to pour in, I rolled onto the floor in a four-hour stupor. Amazingly, there was very little shoplifting, and the register remained closed. Nor did anyone call the police or summon an ambulance. I was just another body sprawled out on the floor. Something we all saw fairly frequently back then. I wasn’t even fired for my indiscretion. Which was fine by me, as I was paid not in cash but in chunks of high-grade Moroccan opium, which, combined with speed, provided one with something pretty close to being asleep and dreaming while you were completely and vividly awake, like some hideous criminal from the pages of Conan Doyle.

A week or so later a friend and I decided to go see Eric Burdon and the Animals, not so much because we were huge fans of their music (“The House of the Rising Sun” and “We Gotta Get Out of this Place” were their big hits; heard once they were fine; heard twice they quickly grew dull), as much as we had two bucks burning holes in our pockets, and it was, well, just something to do. We arrived and got on line, only to be told that Eric was sick and his bass player, Chas Chandler, wanted to put on instead a guy he managed who’d just made a big splash at Monterey. The guy’s name was Jimi Hendrix. I had no idea who this was and suggested we split and find something else to do, such as take more opium and speed and maybe go see “Blow-Up” for the fourth time at the cinema on 8th Street (we’d seen it three times in a row a few weeks earlier). But my friend said that he’d read that this Hendrix played guitar with his teeth. So we paid our two bucks and went in. The club held maybe 150 people, tops. The opening acts were the ubiquitous Richie Havens and a band led by Jeremy Steig, a flute-player and son of the great William Steig. We sensed that something big was happening when a waitress shooed some customers away from a table near the bandstand. “That’s Bobby Dylan’s reserved table.” Dylan didn’t show up—he would’ve stolen the show—but Jimi Hendrix came on and was, well, amazing.

A week later my friend suggested I drop acid. Until then I’d been cautious about doing acid, and the people who owned the store where I worked were adamant that taking any hallucinogenics was a serious matter. Acid was a way inwards, fraught with all matter of dangers, and one could only do it with a guide. And, they insisted, if I was really intent on taking LSD I should only take one of Owsley’s products, as they were very clean and very reliable. In fact, I’d been fully aware of how they managed to get their supply of acid. I quote from Airtight:

The Owsleys came via Railway Express in duffle bags all the way from San Francisco. Trading on the street for twenty bucks a pop, these were bought wholesale and by the gross for a nickel apiece from a dealer known only as Superspade, who lived somewhere in the Bay Area. People took turns going to Grand Central to claim the thing, handing in their ticket and hefting the bag onto their shoulder for the long tense walk past the cops that always seemed to be hanging inside the Vanderbilt Avenue entrance where, especially in the winter, the heating vents were most active. Deliveries ended when Superspade was found stabbed, shot and left dangling in a sleeping-bag from the top of an oceanside cliff in Marin; though there was also a rumor back East that his torso was found floating in San Francisco Bay, and that every few weeks another essential element of Superspade—a Superhand, a Superleg—would bob up to be retrieved.

My guide was my friend with whom I’d gone to see Hendrix. An acid trip is made up more or less of three parts, the middle being the riskiest, and it’s why a guide is important. It’s when you can lose your identity, and when, if you’re not guided, you can lose your mind. For good. I managed to retain a good portion of mine, and once I got through it my friend put on a record that had just been released—Jimi Hendrix’s first album. I was hooked. It was then I began taking weekly trips, almost always with one of Owsley’s products. Once I was back in Indiana I would drop a tab every Friday afternoon before my Romantic Poetry class, and by the time class was dismissed I was a happy guy, floating back to my dorm room for my eight hours of bliss. By then I no longer needed a guide, though I’d taught my roommate, a responsible, serious psychology major, how to help me out if I needed help. I also began to build up a tolerance to acid, so I’d drop a tablet, then five hours later take another. Sometimes I took two at once. That was when I decided I needed something a little stronger. A friend in Brooklyn, who’d been asked to leave the college the previous year, was my connection. He’d always been able to provide me with anything I wanted, from drugs to electric guitars (“Where’d you find this?” “It fell off the back of a truck on Bay Parkway.”) This time he outdid himself. Enclosed, as always, between the covers of birthday cards designed for four-year-olds, the white powder was flattened between sheets of foil. I had no idea how much was there or what a single dose would look like, so I took most of it, that February afternoon, and headed for class. What I write in Airtight happened exactly as I relate it. The main character, whom I call Nick, stands in for me, just as the fictional town and college of Allenville, Pennsylvania, stands in for where I really was at the time. I set it a few years later than it actually happened:

He drifted back to his cinderblock dorm room, with its Tensor lamp, KLH stereo and poster of Allen Ginsberg in an Uncle Sam hat, put Jimi Hendrix’s first LP on the turntable, and lay down on his bed to settle in for the remainder of his trip. He held a hand out in front of his face, and though it was numb, though when he touched it with his other hand it was like something made of rubber, it shimmered like a bulb about to burn out, then—zzzzip—disappeared. He made a fist and it reappeared. Groovy, man, he would have commented under other circumstances, but something was different. He sat up and looked at the record spinning around and it was no longer black, it was flesh-colored and soft and the needle seemed to be carving canyons into it. He reached over and pulled the plug and Jimi sang “Manic de…press…ion…is…”

“Okay,” he said to himself as he sat up. “Be calm. Be cool. Relax.” He put his hands on his thighs and they seemed to sink into them.

Deep breaths. Nice thoughts: pretty girls, good music. Happy, happy.

Nick stood in front of the mirror mounted over his desk. His first twenty trips or so had been guided by one friend or another who knew what they were doing. But Nick was a pro by now, and this time, when things were starting to tilt into the Very Weird and Abnormal he had no one to count on; at least no one any closer than a specialist in freak-outs known as Magic Mike, who lived on 13th Street and Avenue A, which required a toll call and a bus ticket. He lit a Camel and when he went to take a drag his hand blended in with his face and his cigarette fell to the floor.

He bent down to pick it up and when he stood he was gone. He had no reflection. He had disappeared. It was a completely finished hallucination, something brilliant and ingenious that he would have admired had he not been the object of it: all three dimensions were covered. In his eyes he had become nothing, not even a faint outline. In the mirror he could even see through himself to the furnishings behind him: the Jimi Hendrix record as it melted into the turntable; his bed, last made, oh, some three weeks ago: he was the haunter and the haunted, all at the same time. And then it came to him: he’d opened a metaphysical door and was standing on the threshold of his own death. He was both in a dorm room in Allenville, Pennsylvania and in a place that was beyond time. One step and he would be gone forever.

This was the big one, he thought, the thing bands from San Francisco to London had sung about, that sacred texts had so reverently spoken of as something attainable only after a life—or many lives—of contemplation and abstinence; the state of grace that would change his life forever: the Clear White Light itself. At least one of the Beatles had been there (he could never see Ringo or Paul communing with the Great Divine, and as for the edgy John, well that was anybody’s guess); David Crosby had a permanent round-trip ticket to it, as though he had access to a shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central Nirvana; and the Velvet Underground, who wrote a song with nearly the same name, had achieved it through different means. But now he had joined the pantheon of the Enlightened, he had been ambushed by the One Magnificent Truth. It was staring him in the face and his fate was sealed. He knew the meaning of life. He understood what people tried to say when they spoke of God. Kubrick’s 2001 now made perfect, impeccable sense to him. All that was left was for him to step up to the window, crack it open and let himself drop. He wouldn’t die; only his body would be crushed and mutilated, but he sensed—no, he knew—he would live on somehow, and in that state, whatever it may be, he would be a force in the universe: a shadow in an afternoon world; a breeze that breaks the stillness of evening. He pressed his forehead against the cool glass and peered down to see not a monolith standing in a lunar crater, but a red Firebird, a black VW Beetle, and the housemother’s shit-colored Buick. One of them might be in for a big surprise.

But there was a choice. There was a choice, there was a choice, there is a choice, and the words kept running through his head as he paced the room and caught glimpses in the mirror of his not being there out of the corner of his eye. He could live through this. He’d be damaged in some obscure way, he knew that much, he might end up in a vegetative state in an institution outside Buffalo for the rest of his days, dutifully visited by his aging parents each week until they ran out of money, time and patience for the eight-hour bus ride from Jersey; or he might turn out to be a valuable member of society; brilliant and blazing beyond anyone’s expectations, a kind of savior or prophet, a man whose eyes glowed with intelligence and insight. Women would flock to him, chauffeurs would open doors for him, he would walk on water and when he wasn’t walking on water he’d be counting his millions. The choice was his to make. And with that, death was off the table.

There was nowhere else to go but back to the beginning. Carrying the knowledge of the nature of existence, he had to start all over again, this time from scratch. He was a baby in a bubble, rising up over Jupiter, far, far away from home. Cue the music. Bring on the awe.

But first he had to bang like hell on the wall and get some help.

And that ended my drug career. No more grass, no more acid, certainly no more meth. That last acid trip came to revisit me, though, sporadically over the years, coming upon me at odd times: once when walking into Grand Central I went into full trip-mode and somehow made it on to the subway without hurling myself onto the tracks; another time, in my next college, where I passed for a Very Serious Student, in a Victorian Novel class, when I began hallucinating and had to restrain myself from standing up and doing something very dangerous either to myself or the person sitting in front of me. For years after that I could summon up what’s known as a flashback, and I could probably do it now, all these many years later. But I’m content in having gone to the very edge, to seeing what it was all about, and to appreciate the lessons of the Clear White Light. Thanks, Owsley, for paving the way for me.

I read yesterday morning of the death of one of the most original voices in British literature, Dame Beryl Bainbridge. I’d first discovered Beryl’s works in the mid-70s after reading Graham Greene’s praise of her novel The Bottle Factory Outing. It was on a trip to London in the early 70s that I managed to find the title (unavailable then in the US), along with everything else I could find by her. Once I read it I knew that Beryl’s was a unique voice and one that would influence me in some way that I couldn’t yet foresee. She’d also influenced a generation of other writers, and her powers of observation, her mordant wit, and her ability to mix in a completely convincing way the tragic and the comic, can be seen in the works of many authors, including this one.

Some years ago I tentatively began work on a novel about a boy growing up in Paraguay with a father who had once been a high-ranking Nazi and was now in hiding. It was to be called Eldorado, and I recently discovered the mere 37 pages I had written of it tucked away in a folder on my laptop’s hard disk. It’s not bad, and maybe one day I’ll do something with it. But back then I had great plans for this book. I imagined scenes in which the boy celebrated his father’s birthday with the man’s friends, all of them also ex-Nazis who still held allegiance to the Führer in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Looking back from adulthood, the narrator would remember being jogged up and down on the knee of kindly Dr. Mengele, and when his father’s cake was brought in, the candles, embedded in a layer of vanilla frosting, formed a blazing swastika. Klaus Barbie, “The Butcher of Lyon,” was definitely going to play a role in this tale of a boy outgrowing his family’s past.

Here’s a paragraph lifted from that unfinished novel:

That night there were the usual guests, those I had watched arrive in the waning hours of the afternoon: the Doctor with his soft angelic eyes; Uncle Klaus, the man known throughout the continent as the Consultant, emerging from his rented white Mercedes with a smile of goodwill and a gentle pinch on the cheek for me, merry Klaus Altmann with a spring in his step and a song on his lips, the smell of La Paz or Lima still lingering about him. Anyone else passing through on the network, traveling on business, or simply feeling nostalgic, was also welcome. They had not yet begun to grow old and careless: most wore new names, the novelty of mustache, the superfluous eyeglasses that made them appear to be pharmacists and elementary school teachers in search of herbal remedies or truant children. Once the Doctor came dressed as a priest, his soutane blowing in the evening breezes, and when he saw me amidst the merry guests he anointed me with his thumb and a smear of Veuve Cliquot. “He has good bone structure,” he told my father as he squinted at me through a cloud of cigarette smoke, showing the gap between his front teeth. “Breeding is everything, you know.”

The “Doctor,” of course, is Mengele. And Klaus Barbie—he used the name Altmann while residing in some comfort in Bolivia (and working for Bolivian intelligence, to boot)—lived more or less openly wherever he was on the continent, often under the protection of the government in power. His escape from Europe via a ratline had been aided by both a number of Catholic priests as well as, it was suggested, officers of what would soon become the CIA; the logic being that he may have been a Nazi but, hey, he was an ardent anti-communist.

I twice watched Marcel Ophüls’s harrowing “Hôtel Terminus,” a three-hour-plus documentary on Barbie and his long happy life prior to his arrest and trial. I remember vividly the scene in which Barbie rises up, wraithlike, into the dock of the courtroom in France and turns his skull-like gaze at the spectators and the camera: a look of such simmering darkness and malevolence that one had to turn away from it for fear of one’s soul being caught by the dull blueness of his dead eyes. He was a man of immense cruelty and love of power, and his choice of victim revealed a streak of cowardice that had grown sharp with use. While in charge of the Gestapo in Lyon he had ordered the deportation of forty-four Jewish children living in an orphanage in Izieu, ranging in age from four to seventeen, to a certain death in Auschwitz. All but two were gassed; the remaining children, the oldest, were killed by firing squad. Their class photo hung above my desk while I wrote: ranks of smiling faces in the sun, terribly alive, on that still bright afternoon before Klaus Barbie signed their deportation order.

While questioning for eight solid days Simone Lagrange, a 13-year-old Jewish girl arrested along with her parents, he gently stroked a kitten before finally, and brutally, beating the child, smashing her head against the desk in his Hôtel Terminus office. It was his hand stroking the cat that this woman who’d survived the camps and testified at his trial always remembered: how could such an apparently gentle man be capable of such violence? When she first saw him (and I translate from her testimony given at Barbie’s trial), “[He] caressed my cheek, he said I was cute.” And when he struck her, she said, “it was the first time in my life I had been slapped by anyone.” In the film the neighbors who had not lifted a hand to save her and who still lived there now claimed not to remember her. Perhaps they were ashamed of their behavior. Or maybe it’s just that the past really is another country. But not for Simone Lagrange.

It was that which gave rise to my idea for the novel. I thought: how does a child escape the malign influence of a man who had instilled such fear and brought so much suffering to so many people? And what complex collision of feeling and memory did this man have to negotiate day after day as he lived his life out in his South American backwater? Okay, so far so good. The tone was mordant, sometimes blackly comic, and I had a very good idea where the story was going.

So I began to do some research. Never having traveled to South America, knowing very few words of Spanish, I did a fair amount of reading, and eventually met at my daughter’s school a South American whose child was also there. For legal reasons I‘ll call him Ramon. He was around my age, perhaps a few years older, a man of many talents: a storyteller who could hold the attention of a class of eight-year-olds; the illustrator, he said, of at least one children’s book; a guitarist with more than passing ability. He also told me he’d been in advertising in New York for several years, working at the legendary agency known as BBDO, often alluded to by Don Draper and his cohorts at Sterling Cooper, and known to every New Yorker who has walked past their building on Madison and 47th. He told me (and others) of some of the advertisements he’d been responsible for, big, clever campaigns we all had seen. He was indeed an impressive man.

I happened to mention to him my plans for the novel, and wondered if he might help me get my bearings on Paraguay, where I intended to set my book. Certainly, he said, he’d be happy to help. “Come to my house for a few hours and I’ll tell you everything I know about Klaus Barbie.”

You knew him?

“Let’s just say that I was one degree of separation from him.”

Research usually doesn’t get that good. I figured I’d question him on life among the exiles (and war criminals) in that country, and get a sense of the rhythm of things in Paraguay. So I came to his house, and while he told me a slightly ribald story of having a drink with a certain Latin-American singer at a café in the West Village and suddenly finding a well-known actress perched on his lap, he prepared what he called a merienda, a traditional midday snack. My idea of a snack is maybe a cup of yogurt or a few crackers. This was the better part of a cow cooked in stages on a grill, and a bottle of very rich, very potent South American wine. It was eleven in the morning, and I was clearly not going to be myself for the remainder of the day.

When it was time to work, he got out a map and pointed out the terrain in various parts of the country, explaining the climate, the state of the roads, the kinds of cars people owned who lived far from the cities; good places for people to hide (though Barbie often lived in the cities, under the protection of the local constabulary and army). I took copious notes; this was going to be a killer novel.

He opened a box of photographs that had belonged to his family. Some, decades old, were of a mansion of European design, perched on the edge of what could only have been a jungle. His grandmother, he said, had worked as a housekeeper at this palace. “See? Here she is standing on the step.” And then he looked at me: “They used to call Barbie ‘The Consultant’.”

I looked at him. “This was his house?”

“No, no. He was a well-known figure. Everyone knew him. He traveled here and there, went to one house for dinner, to another for a meeting…”

“And your grandmother-?”

“Of course she saw him often. She didn’t know who he was exactly. To her he was just another German. But she said he was charming, a very nice man.”

So we went through the photos and some more maps, and we drank some more wine and ate more beef, and when I left—I should say staggered off—I felt I was now able to write this novel. I had a sense of the local color, and a grasp of the respect a Klaus Barbie could command in the country of his exile. But something troubled me about the whole thing (above and beyond the whole “charming Nazi” paradigm, eternally distasteful). I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was as if I’d been told a story that lacked a center; a kind of doughnut tale that remained vaguely unsatisfying.

Two weeks later I ran into Ramon at the school. He had bad news; in fact he looked so awful that I was prepared for the worst. Ramon had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was in the exact center of his brain, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Until now no doctor had even been aware of it. A sentence of death had been handed to him. The specialists had all given up.

And then he dropped out of sight. His child continued to be a student at the school, and I’d see his (American) wife now and again on the carpool line. And then I received a call one evening from a friend who said that Ramon had been seen walking along the side of a road carrying a rifle. Carrying a rifle? What the hell was this all about? He seemed troubled, my friend said, and it was obvious he was intent on killing himself. The story had some coherence to it: an inoperable brain tumor leads to suicide. Okay, I’ll buy it.

Things started to escalate, or rather veer off in all the wrong directions. His wife got wind of the story of the brain tumor and apparently had never been told anything about it. One prominent advertising campaign he’d said he’d devised (“on the back of a napkin over lunch”) was demonstrably not by him. And a week later, while catching the six o’clock news, I watched as a disheveled Ramon was marched off to a police car in handcuffs. He’d been robbing banks all over the area and, his disguise proving so unremarkable, was spotted after turning over yet another bank before he was promptly arrested. At another woman’s house.

The entire structure of this man’s life—his supposed career, his brilliant advertising campaigns, his tales of South America among the Nazi war criminals—nothing could be trusted now. There was no brain tumor, there was simply…nothing there. The man had been lying and, worst of all, lying to his own wife. Possibly—probably—even to himself. He was a fiction, and when he was about to be caught out something imploded within him. Life could no longer make room for this sad man, though life may very well have accepted the sheer ordinariness of a life lived less spectacularly, stripped of its ornamentation and bravado, had he allowed himself the chance to give it a try. He was like a man who, late at night, alone in his apartment, cheats at solitaire, caught in an endless round of self-delusion, a life full of jacks and queens and kings and, of course, the joker at the bottom of the pack.



It seems to me that in every writer’s life there’s one event—an epiphany, even—that can be considered a defining moment when the seed is planted that will one day blossom into a lifetime of putting words on a page, waiting weeks and months for one’s agent to call, and generally cursing one’s reflection in the mirror for having chosen such a solitary, thankless and financially unrewarding career. Yet we do it because, well, we don’t know how to do anything else.

Contributors

By TNB Editors

Editor-in-Chief: Joseph Grantham

Essays Editor: Marnie Goodfriend

 

Nonfiction

Editor: Seth Fischer

 

Poetry

Editors: Blake Stewart, Rich Ferguson, & Wendy Chin-Tanner

 

Founder & Editor Emeritus: Brad Listi

TNB Book Club Co-Curator: Jonathan Evison

**

We miss you, Cynthia Hawkins!

**

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS:

Alison Aucoin, Alexander Chee, Aaron Dietz, Art Edwards, Alexander Maksik, Amy Monticello, Amy Shearn, Angela Stubbs, Angela Tung, Ben Loory, Becky Palapala, Cris Mazza, Christopher Ryan, Darian Arky, Davis Schneiderman, Dika Lam, Don Mitchell, Darci Ratliff, D.R. Haney, David S. Wills, Elizabeth Collins, Emily Rapp, Greg Boose, Gloria Harrison, Greg Olear, G. Xavier Robillard, Henning Koch, Irene Zion, Jessica Anya Blau, Joe Daly, Justin Benton, James Bernard Frost, J.S. Breukelaar, James Irwin, Jennifer Duffield White, J.E. Fishman, Jamie Iredell, Jen Michalski, J.P. Smith, Jo Scott-Coe, Katie Arnoldi, Kris Saknussemm, Kip Tobin, Kimberly M. Wetherell, Kristin Iversen, Laura Bogart, Lenore Zion, Matthew Baldwin, Matthew Batt, Melissa Febos, M.J. Fievre, Quenby Moone, Richard Cox, Ronlyn Domingue, Ryan Day, Reno J. Romero, Rachel Pollon, Richard Thomas, Sean Beaudoin, Steve Almond, Summer Block, Sharon Harrigan, Sung J. Woo, Stefan Kiesbye, Simon Smithson, Steve Sparshott, Ted McCagg, Tyler Stoddard Smith, Victoria Patterson, Zoe Brock, Zara Potts, Zoe Zolbrod.