Suspend Your Disbelief

Tyler McMahon

Contributing Editor

Tyler McMahon is author of the novels How the Mistakes Were Made (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) and Kilometer 99 (St. Martin’s Press, 2014). He lives in Honolulu and teaches at Hawaii Pacific University. Learn more about him at


Reviews |

[Reviewlet] badbadbad, by Jesús Ángel García

Jesús Ángel García’s debut “transmedia” novel, badbadbad is fast, fun, irreverent, and unlike anything else in the fiction aisle. Starring a lead character who shares the author’s name, the book follows his descent from devout webmaster to the obsessed savior of a pornographic social network. Also included: a documentary, a soundtrack, a chapter-by-chapter YouTube playlist.

Reviews |

The Beginners, by Rebecca Wolff

A bookish fifteen-year-old breaches taboos in the small New England town of Wick. Poet Rebecca Wolff’s masterful first novel is an Appalachian folk ballad rendered gothic–full of sex and ghosts, mixing caution and temptation, obsessed with origins but somehow timeless.

Shop Talk |

Stories We Love: "Ballerina, Ballerina"

(Editor’s note: “Stories We Love” made its debut as part of Fiction Writers Review’s Short Story Month celebration. But we love short stories year-round. So here’s another installment, courtesy of FWR contributor Tyler McMahon.) As an undergraduate, I took my first fiction-writing workshop around 1997. It didn’t go well. My peers were entrenched in Mafia stories and Christian parables. I failed to find my voice. The instructor was accepted into law school for the following fall, and declared there was no future in writing. Near the semester’s end, she invited one of her fellow graduate students, Eric Rickstad, to visit. […]

Reviews |

A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, by Peter Mountford

A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is not your grandfather’s expat novel. In this smart debut, Peter Mountford rolls up his sleeves and delivers a crash course in Latin American history, contemporary economics, and international politics—all within a page-turning story about the dreams and gaffes of a twenty-something American working for an unscrupulous hedge fund in Bolivia.

Reviews |

Volt, by Alan Heathcock

Tyler McMahon loves short stories but worries that collections might be the worst thing to have happened to the genre. However, books like Alan Heathcock’s Volt renew his faith in the collection as an art form of its own, one that makes its stories inseparable from one another—greater even than the sum of their parts.

Interviews |

Consumed by the Country: An Interview with Tatjana Soli

Tatjana Soli’s debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, takes place during the Vietnam War and focuses on a female combat photographer. Tyler McMahon talks with the author about how we choose our subject matter, the challenges of writing about well-documented history, the role research plays in her process, and why novels matter in an era increasingly dominated by nonfiction.

Shop Talk |

Reviewlet: An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell

An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell Unbridled Books, April 2010 256 pp Concert violist Suzanne Sullivan is preparing dinner when she hears on the radio that her long-term lover Alex—a well-known conductor—has perished in a plane crash. Living with her husband (a composer), her best friend Pertra (a concert violinist) and Petra’s deaf daughter Adele, Suzanne is forced to grieve in secret. With one foot in a dysfunctional marriage and one hand in the rearing of a child not her own, she comes to realize that it was during her stolen moments with Alex that she felt most whole. But […]

Reviews |

God's Dogs, by Mitch Wieland

In an age of books built from blogs, tweets, and text messages, God’s Dogs, Mitch Wieland’s new novel-in-stories, feels as though it were made of wood. It is regional, elemental, and bears the marks of its maker: the careful grooves of his chisel, the smooth surfaces from the author’s finest sandpaper, even rough-hewn gouges by what might have been teeth or fingernails.

Reviews |

Some Things That Meant the World to Me, by Joshua Mohr

If you’re one of those anachronistic thirty-somethings who still quaintly reads books—let alone, a nineteenth- and twentieth-century form like the novel—then you may know the rare and exquisite pleasure of stumbling across one that seems to be written by, for, and about your contemporaries. I had that experience recently with Josh Mohr’s debut novel. Some Things That Meant the World to Me (Two Dollar Radio, June 2009) is the unsettling story of a thirty-year-old San Francisco man named Rhonda, who suffers from depersonalization disorder after a childhood of abandonment and abuse. In between cue-stick beatings, Rorschach tattoos, and botched batches of home-brew wine, he discovers a portal to his past in the dumpster behind a local taquería.