Image: Alex Kanevsky, Interior with Meat (detail), 36" x 36", Oil on Canvas, 2006
The end of the year brings weeks of festivities, holiday cheer, and our annual celebration of genre writing. We're countering the merriment with a dose of the macabre, greeting the long nights of winter with literary chills from round the world. In palatial villas and rustic inns, pursuing dreams and fleeing nightmares, characters are menaced by forces both supernatural and ominously familiar. Germany’s Markus Orths and Italy’s Marco Candida dispatch travelers on vacations in hell. Japanese master Okamoto Kido welcomes a hideous guest to a remote mountain cabin. Finland's Jyrki Vainonen sees a dutiful son cultivate a gruesome garden. Madcap Catalan Quim Monzó takes fraternal devotion to a ghoulish extreme. France’s Laurent Graff’s cursed woman battles an unusual identity crisis. Serbian Dejana Dimitrevic sews up a story of obsession. Prix du Jeune Écrivain français honoree Vincent Mondiot marks a deadly annual tradition. And Brazilian Mario Sabino’s stymied artist creates a fatal masterpiece. You’ll want to read this issue with the lights on.
Elsewhere this month, Ko Un calls up past lives, Violeta Ivkovic searches for holiday trim on a tropical island, and Ioan Es. Pop drinks to (and during) Christmas Eve.
She pressed the dead duck into my hand, then put on her bathrobe and entered the house.
I poured water over the sturdy deep green sprouts growing from the middle of my father’s head.
She was born with one of the longest names on record, and now that name was shrinking, letter by letter, as surely as if it was being eaten away by gangrene.
The Kiso Wayfarer
When they lifted the lid of the pot again, the woman’s head was nowhere to be seen.
from “Dream Diary”
Then Marcello showed her the stake in his hand, dirty from the tip almost to the hook at the other end, with something black dripping onto the ground.
The Cover looks as if it’s alive. It moves and wriggles in Smilja’s hands.
The Visitor Edward Hopper Received Two Years Before His Death
It is like knowing you are dead every minute of your life.
Only someone who’s undressed a dead person can know how hard it is.
They Always Come in the Autumn
The two who flanked the tallest one wore strange gas masks, giving them the appearance of insects with round, dull glass eyes.
Reviewed by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Aharon Shabtai’s new poetry collection War & Love, Love & War is, as its title suggests, a book full of reversals and inversions.
Reviewed by E.C. Belli
Barros's poems are all at once small bestiaries and collections of aphorisms