A few months ago, while walking home from the subway in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I noticed a change in the sidewalk — four of the white cement paving stones had been replaced with darker, bluish-gray stones.There had been a lot of construction in the area, and at first I thought they were simply new stones, not yet faded to match the surrounding sidewalk. But when I got closer, I saw they formed an artwork, engraved with the silhouette of a young, leafless sapling. The etching was meant to approximate the shadow of a nearby street tree, although that tree, now in full leaf and several feet taller, was throwing its noticeably longer shadow in the opposite direction.
Travel poses a particular seduction to writers, especially writers between projects, which Lynne Sharon Schwartz admits was her predicament when she began Not Now, Voyager. After completing her novel, The Writing on the Wall, which dealt with post 9/11 New York City, Schwartz wanted a retreat from American politics. An easy solution was to leave the country. But Schwartz didn’t want to go elsewhere in search of inspiration. For Schwartz, travel is “a distraction from writing—from living,” and often leaves her feeling bereft. During travel, Schwartz writes, “Most of me seems to have remained at home, or dormant, or in a state of suspended animation….” Her attitude, she realized, was unusual, or at least not one championed in a culture of rapid globalization. Not Now, Voyager was conceived as an antidote to this, and how much it succeeds as such depends on how much you enjoy wandering around Schwartz’s mind.
Maura Candela is one of my favorite writers, as well one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met—two talents that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Her debut fiction, “The Boys’ Club” was featured in the first issue of The Common. Maura has also recently finished a novel called The Love Dogs, which is set in contemporary New York and deals, in part, with the long-term effects of 9/11 on rescue workers and their families.
That Irresistible Idea: An Interview with Maura Candela
Aside from Haruki Murakami, much of Japanese writing remains unknown in the U.S., simply because it is not translated into English. Now, thanks to collaboration between the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space, and the Tokyo-based literary magazines, Monkey Business, a special English-language edition of Monkey Business is available in the US. This special edition, called “New Voices from Japan”, will showcase the best of the magazine’s first three years of publication and will include stories, poetry, and non-fiction, including an interview with Murakami.
As Stuart Dybek writes in a letter introducing the issue: “The books and anthologies that line my shelves attest to the fact that we live in a golden age of translation. Even so, it’s rare to have a literary magazine like Monkey Business appear in English. It arrives with the sense of discovery and immediacy that one reads literary magazines for.”