cover image My Volcano

My Volcano

John Elizabeth Stintzi. Two Dollar Radio, $17.99 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-1-953387-16-5

Climate change, time travel, startup culture, and volcanic eruptions intertwine in this sui generis outing from Stinzi (Vanishing Monuments). Told in a series of buzzing numbered fragments, the narrative whirls around a volcano rising in Central Park that looks like Mount Fuji. As the volcano grows, Stintzi builds out the wide-ranging narrative with jump cuts to a Nigerian folklore scholar in Tokyo; Makayla Brooks, a staffer at the emotion-managing startup Easy-Rupt; Dzhambul, a nomadic herder in Mongolia; a white trans sci-fi novelist in Manhattan; and eight-year-old Angel Barros Vargas in Mexico City, punctuating the breaks between each section with entries listing the victims of hate crimes and police shootings in 2016, such as the Orlando nightclub attack and the killing of Henry Green in Ohio, “shot dead by undercover police after being taunted to pull his gun.” Each protagonist meets an unexpected fate: Angel, transported to 1516, is possessed by a vengeful spirit during the Aztec Empire’s collapse. Stung by a bee, Dzhambul becomes a hive mind that first consumes entire cities and then the entire Asian continent. And Makayla, the Easy-Rupt staffer, inhabits other bodies in dreams as she turns to stone. Meanwhile a golem destroys polluted cities, buildings sprout legs, and people appear in two places at once. That Stintzi keeps all these plates spinning is a wonder; that they transform the chaotic present into a fiery, transcendent vision of the future is even more impressive. It’s a brilliant achievement. (Mar.)