I can’t keep gushing about Mary Caponegro. A few days ago, I found this timely passage from her novella A Son’s Burden which is narrated by Thomas Smalldridge, an “ever-aspiring” inventor. The story is basically a conversation between him and his nutty family, and it once again displays Caponegro’s psychological acuity as well as her taste for the bizarre. After calling the phrase “Ring in the new” a “cursed universal slogan,” Smalldridge states:
‘Ring in the new,’ we are annually instructed in the all too familiar collective exhortation, but something rings false in my ear when I, repeatedly, am recipient of the flaccid greeting, ‘Happy New Year!’ Does this trite formula do justice to the mix of trepidation and relief that marks the close of one collection of regrets and the promiscuous proliferation of an entirely new set of vacuous promises? Round again we go, one might more accurately say: the ineluctable disguised as marvel, and yet our rituals, no matter they be made of air or straw, appear to comfort. Familiarity cushions the blow of transition; tradition ensconces novelty.
Whew! That said, what are you hoping for in the coming year?
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.