Matt Tompkins is the author of two books: Souvenirs and Other Stories (Conium Press) and Studies in Hybrid Morphology (tNY Press). Matt’s stories have appeared in the New Haven Review, Post Road, and online at the Carolina Quarterly. He works in a library and lives in upstate New York with his wife (who kindly reads his first drafts), his daughter (who prefers picture books) and his cat (who is illiterate).
It’s not common for a literary writer to release multiple books in the same year or even in the span of a couple of years. So, naturally, Nell Zink released two books on the same day. In my review of Nicotine I said that “Nell Zink is unlike any writer working today.” As it so happens, Private Novelist cements that claim in a big way. After reading back-to-back Zink novels, it’s hard to overstate the breadth and virtuoso talent that is Nell Zink.
Private Novelist contains the two earliest pieces of Zink’s fiction, published here for the first time. One was written eighteen years ago over the course of a month, and the other was composed seven years later in the same fashion. Both are peculiar little novellas that complement the reading experience of Zink’s more traditional works. Most fascinatingly, these early works provide perhaps the most intimate look at a writer who in some respects could be referred to as enigmatic and mysterious.
Zink arrived relatively late into the literary scene, at least by conventional metrics. She was approaching fifty when Mislaid was finally picked up for publication, after an unsuccessful period of shopping her other novel, The Wallcreeper. This