On the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, after suffering police brutality, laments by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
“The news wraps you in lists, trying to destroy the light of your name,
Waxing moon sliver of light—metaphor for black Baltimore boys?”
The one and only Cheryl Strayed passes on her wisdom about literature’s grand mission, the long game and the writer’s role in grim political moments.
On a precarious journey down a twisting mountain road, a singer-songwriter finds herself on a crash-course with her heart. Her husband awaits at the bottom, but the loops and turns of her life are pointing her elsewhere, a burning for change, a fiery want, a flame.
“The other day, my son asked who our king is. Normally, I would laugh — but right now it feels a little too precarious.”
“After our mother died, my three siblings and I went through all of the photos she’d left behind, separating them into stacks: Family. Friends. Men.”
Inside the dreamscape of the Hollywood sign, a love story unfolds, but as in all fairy tales, a villainess appears, and the stars begin to fall.
“Use the literature of Los Angeles as a guide. Read about Acosta’s cockroach people, Babitz’s sex and rage, Banham’s ecologies, Beatty’s white boy shuffle, Boyle’s tortilla curtain, Braverman’s frantic transmissions, Bukowski’s post office, Butler’s speech sounds and Brinig’s flutter of an eyelid.”
A look at the past, present and future as we launch our one-year anniversary issue.
Angels Flight • literary west has launched an emergency “Wall of Resistance” issue in response to the U.S. presidential election. We invite writers, artists and activists to contribute and have their voices heard.
“And I know he isn’t talking to the hummingbird zippering the air just behind his left ear.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Seven weeks had passed since she’d discovered the infidelity. First the email messages, then the bank statements.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The scream queen shakes her head. She watches Frank’s boxers fall from his pale ass like a raggedy Band-Aid from a wound.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Having a level twenty-one paladin with a +3 sword of sharpness does not impress girls even though the sword of sharpness is really cool.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“His face, sharp with twitching whiskers, is close to what was once her shoulder …” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The water is clear and as it rises up it shimmers, until the waves crash on the pier.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Because of the steps, your mouth was eye-level so I kissed you, not hard, no tongue, just a warm friendly kiss for no reason I’ve ever known.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Your pool man might dream about retiring or finishing school or impregnating his wife or getting divorced or saving enough for his daughter’s college.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“The rock star opens his mouth and you tumble out, with the dead-leaves scent of your hair I remember.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Fat rain fell like intention on the side of the road where the life had left, fat rain on my cheeks, benediction to a girl who was suddenly wrestling with religion …” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Dash of the sea in his honey-blue eyes, bones carved by angels …” We’re honored to debut publishing flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“He was only a ghost in the technical sense of the term, in that he was dead and haunting the Earth.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“I drink from the hipflask and, even before the alcohol fills my mouth, it is delicious—the coldness of the metal against my lips, my teeth, the roundness of it, the O.” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“Where are those skies, those seas, that earth of my blood memory?” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
“In the middle of the night, Jeff had a heart attack and Shayla rode in the ambulance next to him, holding his gray hand, adrenaline surging through her body … ” Flash fiction in collaboration with Flash Flash Click.
In GENEVIEVES, Henry Hoke proves himself a master illusionist, slipping us through veils of reality to meet an echo of who we might be in our deepest selves. An excerpt from the just-released book of surreal, gender-bending fiction and a Q&A with the author.
In THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, by Lilliam Rivera, a Puerto Rican-American family does everything it can to maintain a veneer of perfection for their teenage daughter, Margot. But when she’s caught stealing money, she winds up working in her father’s South Bronx grocery store, and that’s where her education truly begins. A riveting excerpt and Q&A with the author.
In CAKE TIME, Siel Ju’s protagonist has no illusions about family or perfection. She’s left that all behind long ago. A compelling excerpt and Q&A with AFLW Fiction Editor Shilpa Agarwal.
“I’d never asked for a brother, but suddenly, there he was, and I got a Disney View Master, a plastic toy that brought a slide show to life as light shined through.”
At Angels Flight • literary west, we love being in L.A., but in this excerpt from his memoir, GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, Patrick O’Neil tells the story of a time when he had to get out.
“Then one day, out on the yard, a giant corn-fed thug, his skin covered in swastikas, sided up to me and handed me this book: ‘Yo, ya gotta read this, bro.’” A Q&A with AFLW’s creative non-fiction editor Seth Fischer and Patrick O’Neil, author of GUN, NEEDLE, SPOON, and also a teacher, filmmaker, former roadie, former junkie, former bank robber and current badass.
“You are the interloper now, like the unwelcome snow flurry in late March, when the world wants nothing but to see the leaves and has no patience for flakes blowing across the pavement.”
For the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” poems from a collection by Lisa Cheby, inspired by the cult-popular TV show, explore grief, power and love.
“Dare me to tell you how long I’ve dreamed of you
We’re a love story written in Sanskrit and Aramaic”
“Many people ask me why I started dating a Martian and my first response is that I didn’t plan it. It was just one of those things that happen. One minute I was standing at the Eat Right health food store minding my own business and the next I was dating a Martian.”
“On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.”
“we’re foolish to not recognize
what can happen when we open
our screen doors to a desperate world”
A sweet summer’s beach trip, two girls and some filth washed in along the shore. A story of the pound and fury of an unexpected encounter, and the refusal to break.
“His urge began in the mythic land of Florida,
where power surges from the steaming swamp.”
A heart-pounding-in-ears exploration of the fleeting possibility of a razor-sharp death, a grand, fiery death, in a wearisome and worn-out life. And what a thrill it could be.
In L.A.’s dating scene, the rules don’t apply. An excerpt, playlists and Q&A with the authors of an alternative guide.
“Together you sneak those tiny conversation hearts from a bowl at the librarian’s desk. You leave only a single heart behind. You sit beneath a table and read them to each other. Chalky dye covers your fingers, coats your tongues.”
“Hospitality is one of our most vital forms of resistance. Each of us must push past our hatred and fear to open a door, and each of us must find the courage to step in.”
“There is a choice we must make: to be on the right side of history or the wrong one, to say, ‘I fought in the face of fascism’ or ‘I just went along for the ride.'” On resistance, black joy, disability and work to do by #DisabledAndCute creator Keah Brown.
Our post-inauguration event, in collaboration with David Rocklin’s Roar Shack, was a powerful night of resistance.
Julia Ingalls has always reconciled difficult times through music. Hearing David Bowie’s “Modern Love” on the night of the election, “the song was now a lesson in how to battle alienation with a snazzy rictus, to stand among the brightest lights yet feel utterly alone, in the dark.”
“we, in the eye of the storm,
are a love letter, a prayer
that is more assurance than ask.
‘We will be ok,’ we say, we sing, film it,
play it back over and over”
“Poetry … must be tactless, falling down stairs like a toddler,
slipping into ravines like a dancer on high alert,
forgetting the words but remembering the way. Poetry must be.”
On the heels of the powerful Women’s March, when love trumped hate en masse, a message from the heart: Invest in love.
A call to action: “As the dark wings of native fascism threaten to blot out our sun, it is essential that American writers, artists, poets, journalists and musicians use their imaginative resources to push against that darkness.”
What does Donald Trump’s inaugural dinner reveal? We’ve obtained the top-secret menu and offer it up as an additional excerpt from THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes. Spoiler Alert: Misogyny Soup will be served.