Contributor Update: Vanessa Lopez Aziz

Contributor Update: Vanessa Lopez Aziz

Congratulations to past contributor Vanessa Lopez Aziz who recently published Play it Back.

In her debut novel, Aziz tells the story of a 27-year-old Asian-American woman, Carmen, who reels she has a perfect life. She has a hard-won life and independent lifestyle with a rewarding job, a loving boyfriend, and great friends. She grew up from a socially awkward teenager with immigrant parents and no college acceptances to the person she is today. She has no reason to want to relive her teen years, but that’s exactly what happens when she reluctantly attends her high school reunion and finds herself transported ten years in the past to relive her senior year. Knowing how her life turns out, she figures while she’s in 1999, she might as well enjoy it. She joins drama club, goes to parties, and flirts with the boy who will become her future fiancé. It’s not all fun and games, though, as she realizes her best friends chafe under the changes and her parents’ marriage implodes. As she struggles to navigate her past life, Carmen must confront the question of why she was sent here in the first place – a question that may lead her to the realization that the life she thought had turned out so perfectly may not be everything she dreamed of after all.

The book has received significant praise:

Play it Back thrives on a simple, but compelling premise – What would happen if you woke up in the body of your younger self? What does it mean? What would you do differently? The novel is an intriguing read from page one, establishing Vanessa Lopez Aziz as an engaging literary voice who deftly blends adult sensibilities with an anxious environment of adolescent uncertainty – and the pressure to navigate (or renavigate) the final year of high school with the promise of college on the horizon. Along the way, Aziz explores the complexities of everyday life – family and friendship, love and loyalty – while seamlessly weaving elements of her own Filipino heritage into a narrative that never strays from its relatable tone. The nostalgic references are a welcome touch for those who remember using printed MapQuest directions instead of GPS systems to drive our teenage friends around to weekend parties.” – Rob Kachelriess, Trivago Magazine

View more of Vanessa’s creative work on her website. Purchase Play it Back here.

Vanessa Lopez Aziz spent the first decade of her adulthood adventuring. She has lived along California’s coast, Nevada, the Alaskan frontier, England, and Eastern Europe. She’s jumped off mountains, excavated ancient archaeological sites, and lived out of a backpack for years at a time. These days, she is more often found writing than living adventures. She is a first-generation half-Filipino and half-Pakistani. She felt a lack of media representation growing up and now writes stories she has always wished to see more of, populated with quirky protagonists finding their way when traditional labels don’t fit. When she’s not writing, she works as a nurse in child psychiatry.

View Vanessa Lopez Aziz’ “Three Parables” in issue 31 of Superstition Review

Contributor Update: Marcia Aldrich

Contributor Update: Marcia Aldrich

Congratulations to SR Contributor Marcia Aldrich on her forthcoming essay collection Studio of the Voice, coming out in February 2024.

In her essay collection, Aldrich invites readers on a journey of personal exploration of women’s lives, discussing themes such as the complicated love of mothers for daughters and daughters for mothers, slinky blue dresses and sultry red lipstick, Hollywood beauties and the stories we tell about them, the losses and treasures of getting older, her lifelong swim, and much more. The essays speak in a voice that is uniquely hers: revealing, comic, elegiac, perceptive, and wise. Each essay takes on dazzling form; some as shape-shifters, some fragmented and experimental, others in the classic mode–each of them to be discovered, savored, and shared.

Award-winning Aldrich has received significant praise for her newest essay collection.

“Essaying is the best way to freeze and examine and better understand the shifting phantasmagoria of our experiences in families and societies, and Marcia Aldrich’s Studio of the Voice is a whole collection of essays par excellence. With an eager, associative mind, Aldrich gathers and explores intergenerational conflicts and conundrums, generating meditative momentum toward a new vision of how we should, and can, relate to one another.” —Patrick Madden, author of Disparates: Essays

“In Studio of the Voice, Marcia Aldrich creates a studio of the voice-driven essay. Endlessly curious, digressive, formally inventive, these essays shine a light on an essential quality of the essay: it’s not about the epiphany, but process, the questions one asks. Long one of our very best essayists, Aldrich is undaunted at the dark door of the multifaceted truths self-investigation can yield, though sometimes, surprisingly, it is only the door that is dark. One essay by Marcia Aldrich is a cause for celebration. This rangy new book should provoke a parade. A signal achievement, Studio of the Voice is an essential book of essays.” —David Lazar, author of Celeste Holm Syndrome and founding editor of Hotel Amerika

“No writer evokes the way Marcia Aldrich evokes. For every scene she writes, story she tells, detail she describes, she palpates the imagination. This book is physicality incarnate. I can feel her hands as they clutch a bedpost, soothe a cheek slap, twist the chain of a pair of smudged reading glasses hanging around the neck, warm with a flash of menopause, rub the arch of Marilyn Monroe’s foot, burnish beauty, weigh the heaviness of rejection, thrill at the joy of a backflip, and press through dark water with the joy of swimming. Studio of the Voice maintains that we are most human when we are most embodied. Aldrich makes us feel fully human as she gives voice to her own body and the bodies of others in this vibrantly corporeal book.” —Nicole Walker, author of Processed Meat: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster

In addition to Studio of the Voice, Aldrich also recently wrote “My First Old Person” on Oldster. Additionally, “In My Head: Tinnitus” was nominated for Best of the Net 2023.

Marcia Aldrich is the author of Girl Rearing, Companion to an Untold Story, Haze Underway, Waveform, and Edge. Her writing has received awards such as the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. View more of Marcia’s work on her website, where you can also view how to order Studio of the Voice.

View Marcia Aldrich’s “The Year in Review” in issue 23 of Superstition Review.

Bill Gaythwaite’s Underburn

Bill Gaythwaite’s Underburn

Congratulations to SR contributor Bill Gaythwaite on his debut novel, Underburn.

Underburn explores the emotional vicissitudes of a family in flux while introducing endearing and irresistible characters. The story follows Iris Flynn, an acerbic self-sufficient seventy-three-year-old widow with a minor Hollywood career in her past and some streamlined kitchen cabinets inspired by Marie Kondo. Her composed and simplified existence is disrupted when her son Frank lands on her doorstep after his rental home is destroyed in a wildfire, the latest in a string of personal setbacks in his life. He arrives with Logan, his twenty-five-year-old “startlingly handsome” boyfriend, a featured extra on a teen soap opera with a loyal Instagram following. Soon, news from Iris’ estranged family in Maine forces everyone out of their comfort zone. Iris convinces Frank and Logan to travel with her to the potato farm which she made a quick getaway fifty years earlier, unleashing a funny and poignant family saga about secrets, forgiveness, and the fluctuations of the human heart.

The book has received significant praise:

“A quirky family story told with wit and wisdom, with shades of Anne Tyler or Elizabeth Strout.”  Kirkus Reviews 

“A wonderfully engaging tale of both family and the underside of fame, Bill Gaythwaite’s debut novel Underburn mirrors the deceptive richness of the very generational ties it so charmingly explores: the long memories, conflicts big and small, surprisingly pivotal moments, and rediscovered bonds. One rarely encounters characters drawn with such candor, warmth, and humanity: you will gladly cheer and care for everyone as they seek to make peace with the past, while risking it all for a brand-new future.” —Natalie Jenner, author of the international bestseller The Jane Austen Society

“A poignant, funny, and timely family drama following the often-twisted paths we navigate toward understanding, reconciliation, and forgiveness.” —Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

“A witty, heartfelt novel with endearing, imperfect characters who are impossible to resist, a deft examination of a family in flux.” —Kristyn Kusek Lewis, contributing books editor, Real Simple

Learn more about Bill at his website. Preorder the hardcover of Underburn here.

Bill Gaythwaite is an established writer whose short fiction has appeared in Subtropics, Chicago Quarterly ReviewPuerto Del Sol, december, Solstice, and many other publications. Gaythwaite’s work can also be found in the anthologies Mudville Diaries: A Book of Baseball Memories and Hashtag Queer: LGBTQ+ Creative Anthology, vols. 1 and 2. Gaythwaite has worked at Columbia University since 2006, where he was on the staff of the Committee on Asia and the Middle East. He is currently the Assistant Director of Special Populations at Columbia Law School. Gaythwaite grew up in Boston and raised his son in New York City and its suburbs. An avid swimmer, movie aficionado, and football fan, he lives in New Jersey with his partner, Tom. He has been writing stories since he was six years old. Underburn is Gaythwaite’s debut novel.

View “Dear Coach Carl” in issue 14 of Superstition Review or read Gaythwaite’s guest posts on the Superstition Review blog.

Perishable by Stelios Mormoris

Perishable by Stelios Mormoris

Stelios Mormoris has a forthcoming poetry collection, Perishable, which will soon be published from Tupelo Press.

Mormoris’ first book, The Oculus, received generous praise from established voices. Award-winning poet Donald Revell says of The Oculus, “Like memory, sunlight itself is both elusive and overwhelming. We live and we compose our lives in the interstices, in gaps both riven and secured by Vision. In The Oculus, Mormoris bodies forth a vivid myth of the interstices, bathed in sunlight, swathed in shadow … Here are poems of serenity in turbulence, dearly welcome now.” Other literary voices such as Kylie Minogue, Christine Kondoleon, Renée Fleming, Courtney Love Cobain, and Dan Beachy-Quick praised the book.

Poet and NEA fellow Emma Bolden observes, “As the title suggests, Stelios Mormoris’ The Oculus offers the reader a lush and vibrant view of the world. Mormoris’ view is expansive, revealing the gorgeous, rich vistas that surround us all in daily life. In these beautifully constructed poems, the humble objects of everyday life—‘tournedos of barley,’ ‘the fresh mint on a wet green melon’—become divine, while the divine is humbled and humanized. More than flight, what Icarus remembers is his ‘cat purring in a stand of reeds, my father sleeping with his hands on his face.’ Mormoris reminds us of how ‘necessary it is to lose yourself in tangles,’ in the beauty that surrounds us, no matter where we look.”

Stelios Mormoris is a widely published poet, author, and CEO of SCENT BEAUTY, Inc. A dual citizen of Greece and the United States, Mormoris was born in New York and spent most of his life living in Paris. He has held positions on the Boards of the French Cultural Center of Boston, New England, The Fragrance Foundation, SYMRISE, ACT-UP, and is a member of Kytherian Society of Greece.

Order a copy of The Oculus here. Keep up to date with Mormoris’ work and the upcoming publishing of Perishable here.

A headshot of Jenny Wu

Jenny Wu’s Continued Success

Congratulations to SR Contributor Jenny Wu on her various exhibitions and projects!

This fall, Jenny is holding a solo exhibition: Otherly. Otherly includes abstract sculptural paintings by Jenny Wu. The exhibition title, referring to the state of being something else, embodies many facets of Wu’s work. As physical objects, they expand the traditional limitations of painting as two-dimensional, resulting in a novel medium that defies categorization. As visual images, her work is alternately reminiscent of op art, colorfield painting, landscape imagery, quilt making, or weaving, yet it is none of these. Thematically, Wu’s titles allude to notions of otherness, due to ethnicity, political differences, or personal histories.

Wu transforms paint from a flat medium to a palpable, malleable material. She pours paint, slices through its layers, and then manipulates these cross-sections to create sculptural compositions on wood panels. Once sealed within a thick, smooth resin coating, they call to mind a timeless permanence.

Wu’s use of paint layers stems from intriguing personal experiences. These include the adding and scraping away layers of paint while making traditional landscape painting a decade ago. The layers upon layers of posters she saw while visiting Rome also inform the process. The work also comments on the increasing use of technology in understanding art, where x-rays routinely expose under paintings and sketches in long-studied paintings. Wu exposes every step and layer of her creative process, but without technology and while rendering the original poured painting unrecognizable. The resulting patterns display repeated but subtly changing timelines of her process, measuring change and progress over time and coalescing into new, cohesive wholes.

The exhibition will be held September 25 – October 23, 2023 at the Widener Gallery, Austin Arts Center. Trinity College, 300 Summit St, Hartford, CT. Gallery hours are Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sat. 1-5 p.m.

Wu in attendance at Bowery’s Gallery’s Juried Competition with Teresa Jade Jarzynski

This summer was full of excitement for Jenny. She attended Bowery’s Gallery’s 32nd Annual Juried Competition, juried by David Cohen, alongside her friend Teresa Jade Jarzynski, whose painting was featured in the show. Additionally, Elephant Exchange or Whatever, a latex paint and resin on wood panel work, was selected by Lauren Nye to be part of Adams Count Arts Council’s 19th Annual Juried Art Exhibition. It was on display at the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College and it won best of show. Jenny also recently became president for Touchstone Foundation for The Arts (TFA), a nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization created by the artists of Touchstone Gallery to increase their engagement with the community around them.

Jenny’s latex paint and resin on wood panel work Magically Found $768,000,000,000 was acquired by University of Maryland, College Park through its Contemporary Art Purchasing Program (CAPP). The work will be on view through Sept. 30, 2023 in What We Do After: CAPP New Arrivals 2023, at the University of Maryland’s Stamp Gallery. The exhibition will also feature work from six other artists.

Jenny also has many upcoming projects.

From Sept. 5-Oct. 12, 2023, Jenny will be featured at the 45th Harper College National Juried Exhibition; Harper College, Palatine IL. From Sept. 1-30, 2023, Jenny will be showcased at CT Women Artists 2023 National Open Juried Show, Barnes-Franklin Gallery; Tunxis Community College, Farmington, CT.

On Feb. 17, 2024, Jenny will co-present Pedagogy and Community at the CAA annual conference in Chicago. She also has another solo exhibition It Depends with Morton Fine Art in Feb., 2024. The reception for the exhibition is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2-4 p.m.

We are so proud of Jenny and all that she is up to.

View 5 paintings by Jenny in issue 30 of Superstition Review.

Learn more about Jenny and her upcoming events here.

Brandel France De Bravo’s Locomotive Cathedral

Brandel France De Bravo’s Locomotive Cathedral

Congratulations to SR Contributor Brandel France De Bravo on her upcoming book.

Bravo’s collection of poems, Locomotive Cathedral, was chosen for honorable mention and a $1,000 prize in the Backwaters Press Prize in Poetry contest—an imprint of the University of Nebraska. The collection will be published in early 2025.

Contest judge Hilda Raz, editor of the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series at the University of New Mexico Press, commented on Locomotive Cathedral, “I was delighted by the wit of the speaker, her refusal to be downed by the isolation and grief caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as drug and AIDs deaths she remembers, and cancer.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the Backwaters Press and University of Nebraska family!” said France de Bravo. “Transformation is a recurring theme in Locomotive Cathedral. I’m delighted that these poems, which explore the very human desire for permanence and control in a world of ceaseless flux, spoke to judge Hilda Raz.” 

This year, Brandel also had the opportunity to serve as a contemplative coach to a Dalai Lama Fellow.

A second-generation Washingtonian, Brandel has served on the Board of PEN Mexico for three years and serves on the Board of the National Center for Health Research. She is a mentor through the Mexican nonprofit Jovenes Adelante and a certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation Training. A poet, author of numerous nonfiction pieces and essays, and translator, Brandel is the author of Mother, Loose (Accents Publishing) and Provenance (Washington Writers’ Publishing House). Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Barrow Street, Conduit, Diode, and elsewhere.

View Brandel’s poem in issue 29 of Superstition Review. Learn more about Brandel here.

Jenny Marie Day’s Upcoming Exhibitions

Jenny Marie Day’s Upcoming Exhibitions

Congratulations to SR Contributor Jenny Marie Day on her assorted projects.

Jenny has upcoming solo exhibitions this winter featuring paintings and sculptures with Alabama Contemporary in Mobile, Alabama and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jenny also has recent and upcoming artist residencies with Greenwich House Pottery in New York City and Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado.

Since 2022, Day’s work has also been included in solo and group exhibitions with Galerie Bengelstrater in Islehorn, Dusseldorf, and Cologne, Germany; Visons West in Denver, Colorado and Bozeman, Montana; William Havu Gallery in Colorado, Form and Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and many other venues.

Day’s practice has expanded to new mediums, including acrylic on canvas paintings; ceramic; mixed media; and textile sculptures.

Jenny Day is a painter and sculptor based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned an MFA in Painting from the University of Arizona, a BFA in Painting from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz. Her exhibition record includes Arte Laguna in Venice, Italy; Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in Korea; Museum of Art Fort Collins; Mesa Arts Museum; Phoenix Art Museum; Blue Star Contemporary Museum in San Antonio, TX; Alabama Contemporary in Mobile, AL; and Elmhurst Museum in Chicago, IL. Day’s work has been supported by an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, a Puffin Foundation Grant, a Contemporary Forum Artist Grant from the Phoenix Art Museum, a Barron Purchase Award and ongoing support from The Process Museum. Day has participated at Greenwich House Pottery, the Ucross Foundation, the Jentel Foundation, and the Playa Foundation For The Arts, among other artist residencies. Jenny Day is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana; Visions West in Denver, Colorado and Bozeman, Montana; and Galerie Bengelstrater in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

View Jenny’s paintings essays in issue 19 and issue 29 of Superstition Review and hear Jenny discuss her issue 19 paintings and artistic backgrounds in her feature on the Superstition Review blog’s Authors Talk series.

Jenny’s work can be purchased through Galerie Bengelsträter, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, or Visions West. Learn more about Jenny and her works here.

Sarah Beth Childers, Prodigals

Sarah Beth Childers, Prodigals

Congratulations to SR Contributor Sarah Beth Childers on her forthcoming book, Prodigals: A Sister’s Memoir of Appalachia and Loss

Prodigals is a series of lyric essays of loss and resistance told in the voice of an Appalachian storyteller.

The book examines how Childers’ brother’s story was both universal and uniquely Appalachian. While the familiar story of the prodigal son carries all its assumed baggage, the Appalachian setting of Prodigals brings its own influences. Childers foregrounds the Appalachian landscape in her narrative, depicting its hardwood forests, winding roads, mining-stained creeks and rivers, hill-clinging goats and cows, neighborhoods and trailer parks tucked between mountains. The Childers family’s fervent religious faith and resistance to medical intervention seems normal in this environment, as is their conflicting desires to both escape from Appalachia and to stay forever at home.

Prodigals weaves in the stories of other famous prodigals, including the alcoholic brother of the Brontë sisters, Jimmy Swaggart, the fallen televangelist; Robert Crumb, her brother’s beloved author of racist and sexist comic books; and Childers herself. The story examines the role of prodigals within the intimate tapestry of family life and beyond—to its larger sociocultural meanings.

Read some of the book’s reviews:

“An Appalachian childhood steeped in Pentecostalism, the Brontë siblings roaming the English moors, the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son: Sarah Beth Childers’ memoir triangulates between these and more. From the outset, it raises the question of who the prodigal is—the younger brother Childers loved and lost, too young, to mental illness, or Childers herself, who left West Virginia and her insular family to become a writer and professor. In prose that’s full of swerves and surprises, Childers tells and retells her brother’s story. This telling is an act of loving retrieval—even a kind of return. Riveting, luminous, memorable. I’ve read it three times and can’t wait to begin again.” — Jennifer Brice, author of Unlearning to Fly and Another North.

Prodigals is about the author’s grief as she explores—via memory, via writing, and via time—her brother Joshua’s mental illness and his loss. She came from a family that did not ascribe names and diagnoses to mental illness, no less Joshua’s, and she must not only find a variety of definitions for loss, love, and relationship but also for herself. This is a journey of self, intellect, and history, toward understanding.” —Karen Salyer McElmurray, author of Wanting Radiance.

“A gorgeous meditation on family, place, and loss. In revisiting the life of her beloved brother, Sarah Beth Childers insists on bearing witness to people and places as they are while contemplating those who stay and those who leave, and the wide pulsing spaces left in their wake. Captivating and clear-sighted. A beautiful book.” —Sonja Livingston, author of Ghostbread.

Sarah Beth Childers is the author of Shake Terribly the Earth as well as numerous publications in literary journals and anthologies. She is an assistant professor of English at Oklahoma State University and lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

View the creative nonfiction essay “Beagle in the Road” by Sarah Beth Childers in issue 20 of Superstition Review.

Prodigals: A Sister’s Memoir of Appalachia and Loss, released on September 1 from the University of Georgia Press’s Crux Series in Creative Nonfiction. Purchase the book here.

Kelle Groom’s: How to Live: A Memoir-in-Essays

Congratulations to SR Contributor Kelle Groom on her forthcoming book, How to Live: A Memoir-in-Essays. 

The book has already earned strong praise from established voices. Read some of the reviews:

“Kelle Groom is a navigator of the soul’s voyage, from mooring to mooring, no matter the tumultuous seas. She is a writer of deepest heart and purest eye, who seizes you and takes you where she wanders. How to Live is one of the most beautiful books I know, a profound reckoning.” — Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death and She Matters: A Life in Friendships

“At its simplest, this is the story of a restless search for a place to be– a way to live– after a series of devastating events. But there’s nothing simple about it. Kelle Groom has created a marvel: a haunted, haunting, beautifully sustained dream of a book.” — Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index and The News from Spain

“Is home the place you left, or the place you are now? This is a central question in this fiercely won, wildly original, and ultimately beautiful meditation. Kelle Groom is one of our most gifted writers, and this book is her Odyssey, which means we will end up back where we started, only changed. Along the way we will visit strange lands, we will come face-to-face with our fears, we will find ourselves among kind strangers, and we will understand why we are alive. This is a book which wrestles with our hardest, darkest questions, and comes out on the side of gratitude. ” — Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and This is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire

“It’s really a book where the tissue between life and death feels very thin at times and Kelle Groom negotiates these mortal stations like a wandering medieval saint on residencies and short term teaching jobs who finds consolation, wisdom and suicidal despair in violet rain, flashes of feeling in the grasp of a hand, while the euphoria of love and eloquent scraps of knowledge keenly ornament this trail where being a bare faced reader is precisely enough. Kelle Groom writes with a relentless and avid consciousness and in this story there is a child and I think it her own becoming.” — Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls and Afterglow

Kelle Groom is the author of the award-winning memoir I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl and four poetry collections. Groom’s honors include numerous fellowships and grants, and her works have received Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, Library Journal Best Memoir, Oprah O Magazine selection, and Oxford American Editor’s Pick. Her work has appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among others.

Groom is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow in Prose and Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Nonfiction. She was previously Distinguished Writer-in-Residence and Assistant Professor of Humanities at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe and formerly poetry editor of The Florida Review. She is now a nonfiction editor for AGNI Magazine and works as director of communications and foundation relations for Atlantic Center for the Arts. 

View four poems by Kelle Groom in issue 5 and “Dear Baby” in issue 13 of Superstition Review.

The book is available for preorder here. The book will be for sale from Tupelo Press starting October 1, 2023.

To learn more about Kelle Groom’s work, visit her website

David Shields: How We Got Here

Director, producer, and writer David Shields has a forthcoming film, How We Got Here. The film is now streaming on Tubi, Mometu, Cineverse, and Free Movies Plus and a companion volume of the same name will be published by Sublation Books in January 2024.

In both the book and the film How We Got Here, Shields traces the history of postmodernism and ultimately argues that Melville plus Nietzsche divided by the square root of (Allan) Bloom times Žižek (squared) equals Bannon.

Shields found inspiration for the film when attending the NonfictioNOW writers’ conference in Phoenix, Nov 1-3, 2018, just before the midterm elections. He asked fellow writers and professors in attendance questions such as: How do you know what you believe? Do you have any absolute beliefs? Is there such thing as “truth”? What is ‘nonfiction” and is it “true”? What do you think is the difference between “truth” and belief? If you have siblings, have they shown your view of the world to be flawed? Are you superstitious? Do you believe in ghosts? Why are you here and not canvassing for Stacey Abrams?

Shields found that the consensus answers: I have no absolute beliefs, though I do believe in the power of art; there are no absolute truths other than that there is no truth; my sister and I are estranged; there are no ghosts except psychic luggage; I probably should be canvassing for Abrams, but I’ve lost faith in the process.

It is from these interviews that Shields has crafted How We Got Here. The film consists of interviews with more than thirty NonfictioNOW attendees, eighteen brief 2-Truths-and-a-Lie videos, and a slideshow / TED talk (on speed) / montage / soundscape / voiceover / monologue / intellectual history of the last 170 years. The film shares diverse perspectives across the history of postmodernism from its roots in art and philosophy all the way to modern day election denial and media politicization.

The film has received great praise:

“This film should be required viewing for every Intro to Humanities course in the country. It does the seemingly impossible: reinserts some context to our mostly decontextualized lives. And, perhaps even more surprisingly, the film’s pace and structure prevent it from ever feeling even slightly boring, despite the heavy lifting it does to excavate the ideological roots beneath our country’s growing social and political turmoil.” —Michael Wheaton, Autofocus.

“A brilliant, encyclopedic film. The meanings are conveyed by how the film is edited: cutting between the history of ideas of the truth, the arrangement of quotations, the personal versions articulated by different speakers, the black-and-white live action, the colorful animation, and the intersplicing of Two Truths and a Lie.”—Susan Daitch, author of Siege of Comedians: A Novel.

“A fast-paced, exhilarating collage of voices converging on the question of how we got to birtherism and election denial.”—Jennifer Jacquet, author of The Playbook: How to Deny Science, Sell Lies, and Make a Killing in the Corporate World.

David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty-five books, including Reality Hunger (which Lit Hub named one of the most important books of the past decade), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and PEN USA Award), Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity (PEN/Revson Award), and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (NYTBR Editors’ Choice). Shields has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two NEA fellowships, and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. Shields, a senior contributing editor of Conjunctions, has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Salon, Slate, Tin House, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Believer, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Best American Essays. His work has been translated into two dozen languages.

Shields has also written, stared, produced, and directed several films including the film adaptation of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel; Lynch: A History; I’ll Show You Mine; and How We Got Here.

View David Shields’ interview regarding “Keeping Up with the Speed of Light,” in issue 11 of Superstition Review.

To learn more about the film, visit the website here. View the film on Tubi here.