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Coffee House

Mark Haber’s Secret Literary Histories

Mark Haber’s Secret Literary Histories

Reviewed by Tobias Carroll

Why not embrace the return of the weird? One of the most welcoming side effects of the blurring of genre boundaries in recent years has been the exploration of fiction that eludes easy classification, but unsettles nonetheless as it traverses the boundaries of the fantastic, the surreal, and the horrific. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s 2012 anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories finds  common ground on which China Miéville and Kelly Link can co-exist with Bruno Schulz and Leonora Carrington. Editor D. Thin’s 2015 collection Shadows of Carcosa provides a welcome primer to the early days of cosmic horror — but includes work written long before “cosmic horror” existed as a genre unto itself. And thus, the works of writers like Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allan Poe can be seen both in their own unruly splendor and as literary ancestors of a disparate series of modern literary strains. . .

Mauro Javier Cardenas' <br><i>The Revolutionaries Try Again</i>

Mauro Javier Cardenas'
The Revolutionaries Try Again

Reviewed by Chad Felix

A minor miracle has happened in a port town sorely in need of miracles: Guayaquil, Ecuador. Last Palm Sunday, we are told, lightning strikes a phone booth, transforming the city’s best public telephone (“The one public phone at the Calderón that doesn’t filch your coins”) into the city’s only affordable one: in fact, it is connecting people with their friends and family for free. You can speak to them for nothing at all. As far as miracles go, this is a pretty small one: a phone is malfunctioning. But Mauro Javier Cardenas begins his extraordinary debut The Revolutionaries Try Again—a book rife with miracles both useless and unbelievable (elsewhere, a baby Christ effigy weeps a torrent of tears; elsewhere, thousands claim to have experienced the movement of the sun, which is in awe of an Earthly appearance of the Virgin) —here, with a small service to the Ecuadorean people . . .