What is a Real Substitute For Blood?: An Interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell

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What is a Real Substitute For Blood?: An Interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell

Patty Yumi Cottrell’s debut novel is Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, an “anti-memoir” about Helen Moran, a thirty-two year old adopted Korean woman who has to return to Milwaukee to investigate the sudden death of her fellow adopted Korean brother. It’s a weird little stall because the lurch of Helen’s brother’s death will get you to turn the page, but there are so many things that only Helen could say that will make you want to read and re-read them and cut them out and wear them into a suit of koan-like kernels to guide you through your each and every day. Helen drops gems like “the eye is a terrible organ” or “time itself is nothing but a construction to organize and measure flesh decay.” All the while cramming into this claustrophobic home that never really felt like a home with her adoptive white parents who are disappointed when she accidentally kills all the flowers meant for her brother’s funeral. There’s a vision of a balding European man. Books on drawings of trees in the Midwest. The abyss. Chad Lambo, the grief counselor. It’s a weird and dark and funny stroll. It nods to Sheila Heti, Thomas Bernhard, and Miranda July, but is completely of Patty Yumi Cottrell’s own making. After all, in the words of Helen, “everything in the world is a palimpsest, motherfuckers!”

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How I Should Have Known Trump Would Be Elected President

Because a few days ago, I was walking in a garden and saw a pulse of motion and realized there was a hawk in the grass a few feet away from me, and when he turned his cruel and terrible head I saw a dead mouse hanging heavily in his beak like a testicle.

Because that hawk looked right at me before he took off flying, and from the branch where he landed there was a rip, rip, and entrails unraveled like yarn.

Because once my uncle showed me all of his guns, and there were so many of them lined up in a drawer beneath his bed, and the ammunition rattled in its box like movie theater candy.

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