Suspend Your Disbelief

John Madera


Ever since a ghost of a chance wrote his disappearing act, John Madera had only seen glory from the cheap seats, but after mistaken identity theft, he’d finally found himself. You may find him in Featherproof PresselimaeEveryday GeniusArtVoiceUnderground VoicesLittle White Poetry Journal #7, and hitherandthithering waters, and reviewing forBookslutThe CollagistThe Diagram, The Quarterly Conversation3:AM MagazineNew Pages, Open Letters Monthly, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, and Word Riot. His fiction is forthcoming in Opium Magazine and Corduroy Mountain. An essay will appear in The Prairie Journal: A Magazine of Canadian Literature. He is editing a collection of essays on the craft of writing for Publishing Genius Press (2010). He edits the forum Big Other and journal The Chapbook Review. He is an Assistant Fiction Editor for Identity Theory. He sings and plays guitar for Mother Flux. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. As for his all-time favorite novels (although she would call many of them “elegies”), John recommends anything by Virginia Woolf, especially The Waves. For new discoveries, he has to mention Joanna Ruocco’s wistful, baroque The Mothering Coven and Lily Hoang’s book of nested boxes, Changing.


Reviews |

A Little Bone of Crazy, or This is Your Brain On Snowbroth: Leni Zumas’s Farewell Navigator

Most of Leni Zumas’s stories in her exceptional (and stylistically exciting) debut, Farewell Navigator (Open City, 2008), are compact studies of paralysis in the tradition of Beckett and Ioensco. Sherwood Anderson could have been describing Zumas’s characters as they, too, are “forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts.” In “Farewell Navigator,” one character envies a group of blind schoolchildren for having teachers “to pull them. Nobody expects them to know where to go.” And in “Leopard Arms”—a story told from the perspective of a gargoyle—a father fears “of doing nothing they’ll remember him for. Not a single footprint—film, book, record, madcap stunt—to prove he was here. Am I actually here? he sometimes mutters into his hand.”

Essays |

Magic and Music Steer this Vessel: On Jorge Luis Borges’s This Craft of Verse

In This Craft of Verse, Jorge Luis Borges’s collected Norton Lectures, Borges diverges–with sparkling erudition–from conventional forms, offering lectures that are not arguments, but gentle provocations. Remarkably, these visionary pieces were composed at a time when Borges was nearly blind. By this time, as editor Calin-Andrei Mihailescu writes in the book’s postscript, Borges could see “nothing more than an amorphous field of yellow.” We quickly learn, however, that his mind’s eye was as sharp and discerning as ever.