With The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead Yet Again Proves His Brilliance

With The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead Yet Again Proves His Brilliance

by Zack Graham


One of the most talented American novelists of his generation, Colson Whitehead’s nine books constitute about as diverse a body of work as any living writer’s. His settings include a post-apocalyptic zombie attack, an American slave plantation in the 1700s, the mid-’80s Hampton’s, and the modern World Poker Tour. He is the recipient of nearly every serious literary award and/or honor known to mankind, and his essays and stories have appeared in every leading English-language newspaper and magazine. The man is a national treasure.

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The Ways In Which We Borrow

The Ways In Which We Borrow

by Robb Todd

There is trouble on the street tonight. Had a premonition that she should not go alone. She caught me stealing once when I was five. I enjoy stealing. It is as simple as that. It is just a simple fact. Because mutiny on the bounty is what we are all about. We are going to board your ship and turn it on out. 

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We Had a Fête & O What a Glorious Fête It Was

We had our annual Summer Fête on Thursday, June 6th, 2019, at The William Vale, with honoree Gary Shteyngart and guest editor of the 15th anniversary issue Alex Gilvarry. Our sincere thanks to all who made it out in support of the journal; it was our most successful benefit to date.

Epiphany lives.

A necessarily hopscotch survey of the revelry follows, with comments from our intrepid interns below. All photos by Tim Draper.

Before June 6, I had never before attended a fête, much less worked at one. But it was such a pleasure to help organize and set up for the open-air event in the company of fellow literature-lovers and a beautiful New York City view. From setting up the auction items to manning the donations table, I interacted with so many kind and interesting people, invested in words and the work of Epiphany. I also really enjoyed hearing the various readings and the comments of Gary Shteyngart! Overall, I would say the evening was a combination of delectable hors d'oeuvres and great conversation—what more could one ask for? — Anita Sheih

My first Epiphany fête was a night of food and drink and mingling and great views of Manhattan. But the most striking aspect of the celebration was the fact that every person there seemed to be united in appreciation for the mission of Epiphany and the work of its writers. Every attendee, from the Epiphany staff and board to the guests to the readers, and even our honoree Gary Shteyngart, mentioned their love of Epiphany, whether to me in conversation or in a speech to the crowd. This, it seems to me, is the essence of the journal— an undoubtedly great party, fueled by love of literature. — Eleanor Stern

It was a perfect New York night for a rooftop celebration — gentle breeze, warm weather, and stacks of books everywhere. Pulling off such a successful event was not easy, but it was only possible because of our wonderful guests. Even though my internship has just recently begun, the amount of effort that every team member contributed to make the fête happen was evident in the pinpoint focus leading up to it and the abundant smiles of the guests long into the night. The fête was a perfect ode to literature-lovers everywhere. In the words of our featured writer Gary Shteyngart, "Here's to another fifteen years of Epiphany!" — Chiara Kaufman

Brian Evenson's Staggering Ventriloquism

Brian Evenson's Staggering Ventriloquism

by Zack Graham

The author of over two dozen books of fiction, criticism, and work in translation, Brian Evenson is a master of many languages, tones, voices, and forms. His work renders the distinction between“literary” and “genre" fiction trivial. 

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Two Novels, Fat and Thin: Keith Gessen’s A Terrible Country and Ryan Chapman’s Riots I Have Known

Two Novels, Fat and Thin: Keith Gessen’s A Terrible Country and Ryan Chapman’s Riots I Have Known

by J.T. Price

To further the comparison between the two texts, certain thematic valences notwithstanding, Chapman’s debut is an all but negative image of Gessen’s sophomore effort—disjunctive where Gessen’s narrative is straight ahead; knowing and bawdy and essentially unconcerned with portraying human relationships at any great length, while that effort forms the pith of A Terrible Country; over-brimming with uprooted wit whereas Andryush walks, block by block, to discover where he might truly belong.

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Smile, America

Smile, America

by Tess Crain

America prizes smiling. Companies in client-facing industries have been known to circulate “service with a smile” policies, which require workers to feign happiness, if necessary, to please customers. “Hey Philly, got a smile only a brother can love?” “Give Us Your Crooked, Crowded, and Snaggled Teeth.” “Come in for a lifetime supply of confidence.” So asks, begs, and pledges SmileDirectClub, one of several fix-your-face startups with pandemic advertising. I understand. I got braces freshman year of high school and did not smile with my mouth open for two years.

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Upstate Dispatch: Six-Six Meadow Avenue

Upstate Dispatch: Six-Six Meadow Avenue

by Harris Lahti

The first house I ever worked on with my father was a farmhouse with syringes and beer cans ground down deep in the yard. It was my job to rake them out so as not to ruin the mower. But I ruined the mower anyway when a live shotgun round went off and bent the blade. In response, my father handed me a scythe. 

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Drunk on the Gush of Poptimism and Skepticism

Drunk on the Gush of Poptimism and Skepticism

by Robb Todd

People complain about the city. There is never not something to complain about. The sidewalks fill with leaves — red and gold — and these critics still complain. Some people complain and never say goodbye but, sometimes, a complainer vacates. The complainer who vacates complains about the city long after she has left. She complains that when she first moved to the city, the city was great. The city was amazing — she never felt so alive. Best thing ever. Never had so much fun. But the city is not great nor amazing nor the best anymore, and it never will be again, she claims. It changed. Forever, she alleges. The city changed. Not the critical complainer, though, just the city doing all the changing.

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"Production Baby" by Katie Yee

"Production Baby" by Katie Yee

by Katie Yee

The day I find out I am pregnant is also the day my husband decides to get serious about becoming an actor. I hold up the pink plus sign, and he starts Googling open auditions in our area. The first call my husband makes isn’t to his parents, it’s to his college buddy, Vito, a so-called talent agent. I hear him on the phone in the next room, saying, “I’m ready to be a serious man.”

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The Popularity of Negativity

The Popularity of Negativity

by Zack Graham

Christian loves culture. It’s how he spends all of his time. He champions good books (with the exception of graphic novels), reading the books he likes twice, even three times in a row. He listens to podcasts. He spends entire days “at the movies,” going to double and even triple features at a single theater. Culture is Christian’s life, and writing about culture is his life’s work.

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"Happier Lands" by Ernie Wang

"Happier Lands" by Ernie Wang

by Ernie Wang

Josh was eleven when he surpassed his dad Gary in muscle mass. He had surpassed him in strength years earlier, at seven or eight, but he feigned weakness and perfected his acting craft, and his exhales drew out longer and his face contorted with pained effort before he let Gary beat him in their nightly after-dinner arm-wrestling bouts. Josh would look at him with awe, to which Gary would look pointedly at Josh’s mom Sally. Sally, stone-faced, would studiously dip her spoon in her soup in even intervals, ignoring them both. Josh wanted to hug her and tell her everything was okay, or strike her with a single blow to send her flying across the room and scream nothing was okay. 

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Julius' Pigeon

Julius' Pigeon

by Siena Oristaglio

I’m sitting on a park bench surrounded by pigeons.

They teeter and flap about.

It’s raining but they don’t seem to mind. 

They peck at the ground, scouring for crumbs.

Their heads scan the surroundings mechanically.

I shift on my bench.

A few turn towards me with an ominous agility.

One sinks its head into its thick neck plumage and gives me a suspicious look. 

I stare back at it. 

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"Clean Kills" by Greg November

"Clean Kills" by Greg November

by Greg November

The dog rushed from between two large junipers flanking the road on the straightaway at the McCallisters’ place, so Denmore stomped the pedal and let the ABS take it from there. The squeal of polybutadiene rubber fusing to pavement—although it could have been the dog making the sound, he couldn’t be sure—flushed Denmore’s blood from thorax to extremities, where it pulsed like many small heartbeats.

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Debate vs. Fight: Notes in the Lead-Up to "the Debate of the Century"

Debate vs. Fight: Notes in the Lead-Up to "the Debate of the Century"

by Tess Crain

Friday night, in Toronto, Slovenian philosopher and analyst Slavoj Žižek will debate Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson on the topic of “Happiness: Capitalism vs. Marxism,” with Stephen Blackwood moderating.

The internet (including Twitter, Toronto Life, the Chronicle, and the Stranger) has a lot to say, and the more you read, the more the debate seems like a title fight or crossover smackdown: it’s the “debate of the century,” a “philoso-fight”; Peterson “wants to throw. The eff. Down”; Žižek will “verbally curbstomp” Peterson—basically, something between Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Conor McGregor, and Alien vs. Predator. Just with words.

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"Dee Bukowski" by Michelle Ross

"Dee Bukowski" by Michelle Ross

by Michelle Ross

You people read about our town in the news—first the rape allegations, then Dolly Molly, then the car accident—and you think you know what happened. You think you know something about who we are. Reporters come here in their shiny cars and their jewel-toned dress suits, they ask a few questions, they spin a few stories, and now everyone from feminist bloggers to my annoying Aunt Monona, in Branson, Missouri, to random douchebags on social media thinks they know everything there is to know about us. 

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What Is and What Will Ever Be

What Is and What Will Ever Be

by Zack Graham

What is a ghost? Is it an apparition that appears at night to frighten us? Is it a spirit at unrest, refusing to pass on to the next life until it settles a score with our world? Are ghosts corporeal or bodiless? Real or imagined? Alive or dead? Nell Freudenberger tackles these questions in her third novel Lost and Wanted, which centers around Helen Clapp, a brilliant physicist and single mother coping with the sudden death of Charlie, a black Hollywood screenwriter and Helen’s best friend from college.

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"Sterling Place" by Aarti Monteiro

"Sterling Place" by Aarti Monteiro

by Aarti Monteiro

They met the year Rani started taking photographs. She had just bought a used digital camera, and took every chance she had to walk around Brooklyn with it. She was coming home from one of these walks when she noticed an older woman outside her building on Sterling Place digging through a purse. The woman wore a maroon coat and stood next to a full cart of groceries, plastic bags bulging from the grates. Her white hair stuck out underneath a lopsided hat. Rani jerked open the front door and held it for her neighbor.

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"The Moan" by David Ryan

"The Moan" by David Ryan

by David Ryan

Some of the boxes aren’t hers. It’s some mix-up with the movers. But it’s unclear how they couldn’t be. Could she simply have forgotten the things inside them? She’s begun seeing her life as a story lately—one from which she has stepped back as certain narrative threads, once her own, wind their way along without her. It’s a certain age she’s experiencing. The story of her life, its narrator drifting, as if away from her. These boxes, I mean, some of them. This one with the dolls. She’s never seen these dolls. There must be a perfectly good explanation. It’s not that she can’t recall. No. It can’t be that.

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