Neil Winokur is a New York–based artist who became known in the 80s for life-size, sharp-focus portraits of his friends Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Cindy Sherman, among others. When his pals got older, they started to complain that they could see blemishes and pores in their portraits, so Neil switched to photographing only dogs and inanimate objects, because, as he told us, those subjects don’t complain. His deadpan, mug-shot style of photography could be considered a photographic equivalent to the pop-art movement. In this issue we’re featuring a never-before-published portfolio of photographs from his series New York. He also shot a giant cockroach for the cover; it was remarkably easy to find a bug that big in New York.
See THE COVER and NEW YORK
Lauren’s first literary breakthrough came at the age of eight, when she was asked to recite her poem about a warrior bride to classmates in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. A seagull shat on her head mid-reading, and the poem was chosen for publication in a museum chapbook. Since that early victory, she has been writing unpublishable fiction and reporting stories related to migration, young people, and the environment. She has lived on an off-the-grid island in Maine, a Ugandan refugee camp, and in the backwoods of Vermont, and now she resides in a tree house in Oakland, California, with her cat, Bodi (named after both Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break and the California ghost town), and works at a nearby high school for immigrant youth.
Bobby Viteri is a beautiful boy who lives in Brooklyn. He likes bounce music, baseball, and babes. Buy Bobby a ball and he’ll bounce it down the block while belting out ballads in his blaring baritone. One time Bobby borrowed his bubbie’s bagpipes and blew so hard he busted his buccinator. Ever seen the movie Bugsy? Bobby bought it on Blu-ray, watched it, and then bellowed, “Bugsy blows big balls!” Boston, Botswana, Berkeley, Baden-Baden—Bobby’s never been, but he’s busting his butt at BICE Media and saving up bucks to book a boat or a Boeing to bop around the globe and bark at babes. Bon voyage, Bobby! Baden-Baden babes are beauties like you, you beautiful Brooklyn boy. Buy one a beer and bark “bitte” at her, and bam, you’re banging that Baden-Baden box. (Bobby is our editorial assistant and did not approve this bio.)
Akhil Sharma is the author of two novels, An Obedient Father and Family Life, the former of which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award—and we’re confident the latter book, which will be published in April, is even better. Often when we pick up novels lately, we feel so depressed by the way they sound. They sound like people without direction, switching between the internet and Word documents. They sound like people who have installed software to keep themselves out of their email accounts for eight hours so they can complete a novel and sell it based on their reputations. And don’t get us started on short stories. Akhil is not up to any tricks. He has a story to tell in Family Life, and he tells it with economy, honesty, and humor.
Sharon Riley grew up on a goat farm outside a village called Hay Lakes, which is in Alberta, Canada. Last time she went home the first item on the community-events page in the local newspaper said, “Drop off dead gophers in bags of not more than eight gophers at our freezer,” which kind of sums it up. Now she splits her time between Montreal, New York, and a corner of the Rocky Mountains that might be her favorite place on Earth. She’s been our freelance fact-checker for about a year, during which time she’s transcribed tapes of Aldous Huxley on mushrooms, been given access to German porn websites in case she wants to do some “research,” investigated dubious information in a Joyce Carol Oates short story, and called the Chicago Police Department several times in a single day. It’s a pretty sweet gig, if we do say so ourselves.