Welcome to the Village with All of the Boyfriends
Since Zach’s passing I’ve reread his book, Boy Oh Boy, over and over. It just won The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction and will be published by Red Hen Press. I’m excited and sad to see it in the world. Zach worked on this book for years and he deserved to see it published, read, and loved. This second person book of short stories and flash fictions tells the story of your boyfriend, or rather, the story of all your boyfriends.
Your boyfriend was raised by sexy wolves.
Your boyfriend is good at kidnapping, maybe too good.
Your boyfriend gets the blood mouth.
You discover that when you cut off your boyfriend’s arm he grows a new arm.
Your boyfriend is leasing space inside your body.
Don’t be shitty, your boyfriend says.
Your boyfriend runs for president as an outsider political candidate.
You decide to order a new boyfriend. You don’t exactly need a new boyfriend, not yet. Your old one is just fine.
He un-genders you, un-sexes you, smudges away the details of your face, any softness or hardness you may once have had is now unspeakable. He whispers your name gently and then that goes too, he peels it off you and you are naked and what remains is beautiful and beyond description.
Everyone loves your boyfriend.
Who could want more? In this book, we see Zach’s longing, not just for love or happiness, but for a wilder, stranger world.
This last year, he was working on a second book, which will remain unfinished. That’s what his life is: unfinished. It’s what I feel too: unfinished. It’s not just me. There’s something about both the world and moving through it that doesn’t feel right. It’s like walking through water when you expected air. It takes some getting used to.
All anyone can do is try to take what we have of Zach and thread it through our lives, carrying him forward in this way. Black Warrior Review, where we each served as editor, will name its new online edition Boyfriend Village, after Zach’s story, The Village with All of the Boyfriends. Zach writes, “The Village with All of the Boyfriends is where all of your boyfriends wind up eventually. You built this Village for them and they can’t leave and neither can you. You are not allowed inside, but you wait in the desert at the edge of town.”
I met Zach the day he moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. While many students are out of town for summer, I was around, so I met him with his keys. I sat on the floor in his living room while he unpacked boxes of books, talking about our favorite writers and our own ambitions. Later we would be friends who ate pizzas and watched movies and gossiped. Most recently he was my roommate and companion. I think so many people know what it is to live with the empty space where Zach isn’t. I’m heartened to think of the spaces where he is. BWR’s Boyfriend Village will be this kind of space. Zach loved BWR before, during, and after he was editor there. It makes sense that he might be woven into the infrastructure in this way. I hope it is a space for weird voices and writers who are trying something new, something surprising.
Welcome to Boyfriend Village.
1984 – 2018