ROUND-UP November 2-7, 2018

"The sound of urine hitting a porcelain bowl rings in your ear, bouncing off high ceilings to reverberate throughout the air. As you read Jenny Hval's Paradise Rot, it becomes clear that Hval is writing for the senses, conjuring with almost nauseating accuracy sensations both mundane and extraordinary. The motifs swirl across the pages: the uncannily soft texture of a slowly spreading fungus, the saturated stench and taste of overripe apples, the endlessly echoing plinks of streams of urine, the pale yellow-white of elderly skin and hair—a world that is completely saturated, about to burst. By the time you close the book, you practically expect the pages to be damp and stained from the juice of apples."
"The arresting neon orange construction fencing fixed to the walls of Automat Collective’s gallery space vividly sets the tone for the tales of romantic drama contained within artist Rachel Deane’s installation Mending. The black-and-white bubble letters layered on top give the impression of a hastily-scribbled “Dear John” letter or a hodgepodge-y ransom note. Standing back from that large text, we read “we see your perseverance and will stand as its monument.” Mending is a monument to survival in the face of doomed love and misplaced lust, of miscommunications and hurts literally sewn into being, all based on 25 of the artist’s own relationships. If the agitation and ramshackle atmosphere created by that warning-bright orange material weren’t enough, reading the rather extensive explanatory text reveals that the words are cut from Deane’s drawings of famous compositions that portray violence against women—The Rape of the Sabine Women, Susanna and the Elders, Apollo and Daphne—placing Deane’s own tragic relationships in this artistic and historical-mythical lineage of women being hurt by men who refuse to take no for an answer."
"As I finished Analee, In Real Life, the first question that came to mind was the following: How does an author write a high school romance in the year 2018, when so many precedents in the genre are unfortunately rather dated? (See: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Back to the Future, Weird Science, Molly Ringwald’s essay for the New Yorker on being John Hughes’ muse.) How does an author show a high school relationship that is both realistic and also somewhat aspirational—to be true to what the high schoolers of today are experiencing, but also showing them a positive example of what a mutually respectful relationship looks like? 

"It’s actually the first question I ask Milanes during our interview. She replies, 'It takes a lot of almost reprogramming yourself to understand what’s not okay. What you’ve thought of or what our society has told us and drilled into us, like ‘this is completely normal,’ and we’ve had to teach ourselves now that ‘no, it’s actually very harmful.’ As writers […] especially when you’re writing YA, you have a responsibly to somewhat portray healthy dynamics especially when you have a love interest in a book and you know teenagers are going to be reading it and possibly idealizing certain characters. So you want to make them flawed, but you also want to be careful of what you’re projecting as a healthy relationship. And if you’re writing about a relationship that’s more toxic, to make it clear in the text why the relationship is toxic and what about that character could be harmful to a young woman.'"