John Domini has published three novels and three books of stories, the latest MOVIEOLA! (Dzanc, 2016). His fourth novel, The Color Inside a Melon (Dzanc, 2019), is forthcoming. Shorter fiction has appeared in the Paris Review and elsewhere, and his journalism and criticism in the New York Times and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a literature fellowship from the NEA, and one of his novels, in translation, was runner-up for Italy’s Domenico Rea award.
“All your working life,” asks an exasperated wife, “you’ve studied these stories. Why?”
She means the stuff of folklore, her husband’s academic field, in which most narratives take a turn to the surreal. The man replies that such stories present “a true picture of the world,” better than “what we see around us.” Ordinary reality, he argues, “isn’t any place for heroes.” This vexes his wife further. “There are always going to be heroes,” she declares. “As long as there are challenges or dangers or injustices.” Really, isn’t that the whole point of storytelling: the heroes?
Vesuvio brucia, “Vesuvius is burning”: The news was on everyone’s lips, and the scent in everyone’s nose, last summer in southern Italy. Yet no one was talking about volcanic activity. Rather the problem was arson: fires set not only on the w [...]
“Cli-Fi,” the latest portmanteau construction with which critics try to corral runaway culture (“postmodern,” e.g.), first turned up in a 2007 tweet. The coinage puts together fiction and climate, implying “climate change,” and it rhymes closely with “sci-fi.” Science fiction, after all, provides earmarks for any narrative that draws on threats like global warming. Such a story must peek into the future and raise questions of humanity’s purpose, its place in the biosphere. Thus a winner of science fiction’s Hugo and Nebula, Paolo Bacigalupi, is the first of the cli-fi authors named in a 2015 Atlantic article. Others mentioned, however, include Margaret Atwood, whose novels are sometimes speculative, sometimes straightforward—and in The Blind Assassin, both at once. The flag-bearer for the movement may be Jeff VanderMeer, whose Southern Reach Trilogy enjoyed success all over the planet while imagining a planet stripped of technology. VanderMeer wrote the ars poetica for cli-fi, “The Slow Apocalypse and Fiction,” a 2015 piece which worried that, when it comes to the endangered ecosystem, “fiction is languishing behind other disciplines.”
Fascinating: two gifted women storytellers, feeding on cataclysm. The American Laura Van den Berg, in Find Me, looks to the future, more or less; she imagines a plague that decimates an otherwise familiar United States.