Book Review

Writing about Lydia Davis


Very, very happy to talk about Can’t and Won’t, the new story collection from Lydia Davis, in this month’s issue of Numéro Cinq. I have nothing but respect for Davis. She’s an amazing writer, and her new book, which comes out in April, is incredibly strong.

As an added bonus, after I finished my review, I contacted Davis about a possible interview. We spoke a bit via email, and she agreed to a short conversation for an upcoming issue of NC (probably to run in the summertime).

For now, you can read my review over at NC.

Book Review

On Eucalyptus


My review of Mauricio Segura’s Eucalyptus is over 1000 words long. Five of these words are “hypnotic,” “invasiveness,” “patterns,” “home,” and “existential.”

To see these words in context (and to see the other 995), click on through to Numéro Cinq.



Louis Armand at Jazz Republic 23.5.13

In the latest issue of Numero Cinq, I have the pleasure of introducing an excerpt from Louis Armand’s upcoming novel, Cairo. Louis contacted me a few months back to see if I’d be interested in putting something from the book in NC, and it only took me about a second to respond, “YES!” Louis’s writing is an absolute joy to read. It’s sharp, funny, odd, disturbing: everything you want in challenging literature.

Here’s where you can find the excerpt.


My God, what have I done?


A month or so back, I began exchanging emails with Ethan Rutherford, author of the great, great new story collection The Peripatetic Coffin, and elements of our correspondence are now up on Numero Cinq. Ethan’s a fantastic person, and in the interview, we talk books, the sea, nostalgia (Spokey Dokes, Garbage Pail Kids) music (Talking Heads, David Bowie), inspiration (Charles Baxter), and craft:

BW: Several small narrative elements in “Summer, Boys”—the Boz poster, Spokey Dokes, Garbage Pail Kids, Bambi vs. Godzilla—firmly and genuinely plant the story in the late 1980s. I’m guessing you were a kid during this time. Do you have fond memories of these knickknacks, and, if so, is it difficult to inject real elements of your childhood into a fictional story?

ER: I was a kid during the 80’s, though the references invoked in that story are a combination of the things I loved and what I understood Older Kids to love (i.e. the things I knew I should love too, but my parents either wouldn’t get for me, or wouldn’t let me watch). And it was a pleasure to allow myself to go back in time like that, remembering this or that cherished and fetishized, and now forgotten, object of childhood. Just a pleasure. All of it came right back. When you’re a kid, you love stuff. The few things that are yours are extremely important to you, emotionally and imaginatively; they link you to the world. Who am I? I’m a kid who lives for a new pack of Garbage Pail Kids. There’s always a concern out there—someone always brings it up—that if you include pop-culture touchstones in a story you are unnecessarily dating a piece of writing, ensuring that it won’t have resonance outside of the few people who cherished the exact same things you did, and therefore Won’t Become Literature. I get where that idea is coming from, but with respect, that theory of literature can go sink itself. It’s the most reductive way to think about fiction, that there are certain things you can and should be writing about. And for “Summer, Boys” in particular—a story that is about a fleeting moment in childhood, when meaning is attached to, and in many ways originates from, very specific pop-cultural flotsam—how could you not include the names? They’re not toy robots. They’re Transformers. That these things ascend as treasured objects, and then are promptly forgotten, or replaced—that’s the point of the story. And as far as that emotional sentiment also characterizes the friendship between the two boys, is where its sadness comes from.

Click here to read more.