New From Cris Mazza

Spuyten Duyvil Books

New in March 2023 

It’s No Puzzle

(A Memoir in Artifact)

In these linked essays, Cris Mazza probes questions of heritage, legacy, and identity­. The result of collecting and preserving her parents’ personal artifacts — letters and photos, newspaper clippings, school records, baby books, yearbooks, concert programs, etc. — was not a linear narrative of their lives. Instead, the artifacts exposed mysteries, obscurities, ambiguities, odd juxtapositions, and questions. The individual stories of experiences — theirs as well as the traces of the author’s — are a scaffold to allow a closer glimpse at the culture in which her parents were forging their lives in 1940s, 50s and into the 60s in Southern California. The postwar era is more complex, convoluted and iniquitous than the idealized “growth of the middle class.” Using these artifacts, the questions and research they provoke, Mazza put together the few puzzle pieces, then contemplated possibilities for a complete(r) picture. In so doing, she altered her own notions of the world she was born into and how it made her.

Released Fall 2020

BlazeVox Books

Yet to Come

A novelistic battle between enduring despair and the relief found in both imagination and the thinnest of material connections: an occasional postcard.

Decades before #metoo, Cal chose his punishment for going too far with a girl he was crazy about: a life-sentence with a woman he could not love, whose frequent rages, untapped spending and ruthless children were his means to distract himself from longing and regret. The girl from his past also condemned him to periodic postcards bearing no return address. Rather than increasing his despair, the postcards helped stoke the imaginary life he maintained with her, including dialogue about his plight, images of her showing up while he plays his sax in a nightclub, and even sex, the very realm that had initiated her retreat from him.

review in Heavy Feather

photo credit Chicago Tribune/TCA

 Cris Mazza has seventeen other titles of fiction and literary nonfiction including her last book, Charlatan: New and Selected Stories, covering her 20 years of authoring short fiction. Other notable titles include Something Wrong With Her, a real-time memoir; her first novel How to Leave a Country, which won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction; and the critically acclaimed Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? She is a native of Southern California and director of the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.