Peach Picks: Things to Read This Week

by / Mar. 22, 2017 1am EST


Peach featured its first collaborative feature last Friday—two new poems from local poets Robin Jordan and RE Katz. In “Girls You Know Are Becoming Thick Carpet,” the dual writers force the warring caged boredoms of childhood and adulthood to battle it out in the ancient arena of the American living room. “That Tombstone is a Little Loud Don’t You Think” has shades of a high-school humiliation accelerated into its most tragic and macabre possibility. A rite of passage forced into violent detour is conjured up in lines like “Maybe the last island / will be a cactus / covered in sequined / shark teeth / Blooming, / blooming.”

RE Katz will be reading at Peach Mag’s next installment of EPISODES, April 2 at Sugar City.


Universal Harvester​ 
By John Darnielle
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 224 pages

Universal Harvester, the new novel from singer-songwriter John Darnielle, revolves around a mystery that slowly develops in the already fossilized local video store of a small town in Iowa. The mystery, a series of increasingly disturbing home videos that have been anonymously spliced into the video store’s film collection, solves itself in fits and starts. There’s a low pulsing dread as the novel goes along and a legitimately surprising use of narrative voice as the explanations begin to unfurl, but ultimately, Universal Harvester is far more interested in exploring the loneliness plaguing each of its landlocked characters.

Through the cast of Universal Harvester, Darnielle presents a world without a future. The Video Hut at the center of the novel is already a shadow of its former self and we as readers know it will soon be replaced by DVDs in envelopes and instant-streaming collections. Darnielle wisely sets the novel in the earliest days of the new millennium, the looming catastrophes of 2001 are unknown to its characters, allowing the cast to exist in that looming state of stagnancy that was known as “the end of history.” Spouses disappear, car crashes devour, and the cult at the center of the book’s mysteries exists as an engine of loss. Universal Harvester illustrates how brave a person must be to continue living on in a world that will only naturally subtract all we care about away from us.


Man Vs. Sky ​
By Corey Zeller

YesYes Books, 76 pages

When Corey Zeller read at Silo City this past summer, he sat on the stage. With him he had a tall bottle of beer, slick with condensation and only visible to the front row, and although it somehow surged and fizzed out of its dark bottle like a miniature fireworks display during key moments of the reading, Zeller only drank from it once. His voice calmly filled the silo with shadowed compassion as he read from Man Vs. Sky, a poetry collection presented in the voice of Zeller’s dearly departed friend, Jeremy Quezada. The fact that Zeller was sitting there with us as he read, forcing the crowd to focus on his voice and not his physical presence, made these poems from beyond feel somehow at once more otherworldly and more human.

Man Vs. Sky is a eulogy for endings, a place where distance and finality are made bearable because it’s shown that they extend into the supernatural. Quezada’s voice calls out to Zeller and amplifies itself through Zeller in these poems, all presented as tightly constructed knockout paragraphs. The collection is a seance ringed around a heartbreak. Quezada and Zeller’s longing for his friend are allowed to speak simultaneously in cutting passages like “I look at the sky and name it after you. I name it after you because it is eating itself. Pieces of it are falling everywhere, jutting out of the ground like glass. Everywhere you walk is a kind of pre-hurt. Everywhere you walk you have to shield your eyes from the shine.”

“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo, New York. For inquiries, contact Rachelle at