A feature of this post-Postmodern era no one seems to have a name for is that emotions and analysis of how they are evoked can simultaneously exist within the same prose substance, and do not have to be polarized anymore. A dazzling new explorer of this synthesis, Rachel Glaser, is exceptionally convincing in portraying both what her characters want, and how the way they prosecute their desire will keep them from achieving it. Her stories “The Magic Umbrella” and “The Jon Lennin Xperience” investigate this paradox in fascinating ways. In both of them—which appear in her collection Pee on Water, from Publishing Genius—the characters unwittingly enact re-iterating narratives. “The Magic Umbrella” traps its characters in the same repeating paradigm, while the young man in “The Jon Lennin Xperience” is helplessly fixed in the plot of a PS3-style video game. Glaser uses language this way, too; she veers between a phony-proper nineteenth-century prose—the voice of obsolete convention—and a cheeky, bloggy, highly ironic snark, which makes both dialects sound like rituals.

I’d heard a lot about The Avian Gospels (Short Flight / Long Drive Books) before ever reading it. I’d stared at those covers online, the red and gold, the abstract of birds in flight, and imagined what a combination of The Birds, The Road, and The Stand might look like. Would it be dense language, a languid read of heavy prose? The sample online hinted at that. Would it be a story of nature rebelling against man, an image of a phone booth, birds attacking it, stuck in my head? Would it be a journey across the wastelands, a cast of misfits striving for redemption? It is all of these things, and at the same time, none.