Recent Work By Ryan W. Bradley

New Mexico, the land of paranormal conspiracy, provides the perfect backdrop for the latest novel from Edgar-finalist Robert Arellano. Having tackled surrealist Dickinsonian parody in Fast Eddie, a retelling of Don Quixote in Don Dimaio of La Plata, and Cuban-noir in Havana Lunar, Arellano moves into territory previously settled by the early films of Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone. Call it paranormal noir, but don’t go thinking that means aliens are around the corner. Curse the Names is much more concerned with the psychological devastation wreaked upon its protagonist than some hokey other-worldly beings.

“It was here that I was dying,” appears on the first page of René Belletto’s novel Dying. And in the end this is really nothing more than a thesis statement for what is more meditation than novel. While reading Dying, I was often reminded of another work that seems to challenge genre conventions: Minotaur, by Israeli novelist Benjamin Tammuz. Dying mixes and matches its genre influences throughout. Though elements of adventure and spy narratives are prevalent, the foundation of the story is romance, much like Tammuz’ masterpiece. But instead of presenting a great novel of love and desire as Tammuz did, Belletto indulges more in philosophy. Dying reads less as a novel than a journal of fictional thoughts exploring a theme.

Prayer and Parable coverWhether one page or twenty, Paul Maliszewski’s stories ask for a lot of patience from the reader. His work exemplifies a kind of minutiae-infused, hyperrealism–somewhere between the robotic delivery of Tao Lin and the soulful Ken Sparling–that has become trendy in recent years.

alt.punk coverArt’s imitation of life is not such a stranger, nor is real life masquerading as what could only be believable as fiction. Being in a punk band is a crash course in both sides of the spectrum. There are moments of such insanity, such zany freakdom that just the act of relating it years later might feel like telling a story over a campfire. Lavinia Ludlow’s debut novel, alt.punk dances along this fine line of the believable, the outlandish, the hilarious and the heartfelt.

The idea of the North as an escape is one that has permeated literature. Whether it’s the idiocy of youth reflected in Into the Wild or career happenstance, as in The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan, places like Alaska and Canada have always held a mystique. There is a certain hope for misfits and those looking for an exit from a tired lifestyle.