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Spring 2021 | Volume 3, Issue 2


Our readers have granted our “Staff Picks” section a sort of quasi cultish popularity. (I say quasi because all of the really impressive cults—you know the ones that get raided by the FBI or inspire episodes of Criminal Minds—actually seem to make money). The concept of the section was to imbibe a devastatingly solipsistic endeavor (creating and reading literature) with the kind of unimportantly important form of social argument and debate most commonly found in video rental joints in 1998, and in that endeavor, it has been a grand and sweeping success. Perhaps the idea was an inspired one; a touch of genius by a true visionary in the fields of art and life, and a realization that the things that influence writers are essential to the things they end up writing. It’s also somewhat possible that I’m just a melancholic lunatic with strangely fond memories of listening to B side Weezer albums while scrolling though Wes Anderson titles in the corridors of a “Best Video.”


As the first issue of New Square was being completed, I remember feeling this distinct anxiety to cram all of the titles that ever moved me into my first set of picks. I gave no consideration to the fact that this could set me up for a future of diminishing returns—in a few short issues I’d possibly be forced to name the 14th most important book to me, or my 11th favorite album, just to participate in the feature at all. Like the perspiring gentleman leaning too aggressively forward in his chair at the poker table, my desire to cram all of my influences into that first staff picks feature was a tell for weakness; a subconscious voice telling me that we wouldn’t make it to future issues, and to get it all out while I can. But not all weakness is negative—writers know to write every novel (every grocery list) like it’s their last; spacing out sources of joy into some sort of extended schedule is hubris anyway— blasphemous to assume we’ll even still be around.  And besides, as the rest of the New Square staff so astutely pointed out to me, they’ll always be another song that strikes you; another book that makes you want to write another book.


It’s been, let’s call it an adjustment, to live through a year now that has been nothing but postponed joys and future contingencies. It’s not really the right way to live after all, and that’s exactly why we’ve felt so wrong, so often. But it’s never really been about keeping things in reserve or saving movies for the next boring day in a series of boring days; it’s about actively finding the next thing on the other side of this interminable holding pattern. It’s a kind of cruel, on the nose natural metaphor that our shadows grow longer and larger as the day grows closer to sunset. We make melodramatic comments and write bad poetry about it, but we’re maudlin, self-indulgent idiots to not concede that our shadows are equally long and looming in the first few hours of the morning. Literary types tend to be the same with the premise of joy writ large.


One of my staff picks this time around is long overdue—the beautiful Solar Bones by the soft-spoken and humble Galway man Mike McCormack. I, along with our 2018 Trinity College Dublin Summer Residency cohort, were fortunate enough to meet and chat with Mike for a bit at the Dublin International Literary Award Ceremony. Solar Bones was the well-deserved winner, and Mike addressed this embargo against joy in his charming acceptance speech, remarking that his book was really a miracle to even be published. In addition to its unique form (one long sentence, no punctuation), it is “about a lad who actually likes his job, his kids, and even his wife, and who actually wants to read about that?” I think I understand his point. My literary confession is that I enjoy my life as well. I do what I love for an occupation, I’m good enough at poker to fill in most of the void of poverty that that occupation endows (in addition to having a wife far better, stronger, and more successful than myself), my debut novel garnered both praise and dozens of dollars in sales, and I’m even good at something most Irishman and American men wish they were—golf. 


This is also my last editor’s essay before becoming a father in the fall. New Square and The Sancho Panza Literary Society haven’t remained what they were when I founded them; they’re better than I could’ve imagined in my own meager capacity and I am so grateful to everyone who reads this for that—as my influences evolve. So I’ll keep cramming every conceivable project into every staff picks feature, growing more confident that beauty won’t dissolve, that returns won’t diminish.




Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (Amber)

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
"Berenice" (short story) by Edgar Allan Poe (Eri)


Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

-pseudonym Brian O'Nolan- (Joe)

Time Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick

To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (Sam)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Voyage of the Stable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis

The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems by Marilyn Nelson

A.L.T.: A Memoir by André Leon Talley

Yellow Wife by Sadega Johnson

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education by Jennine Capó Crucet

Useless Landscape or a Guide for Boys (poems) by D. A. Powell

Don't Call Us Dead (poems) by Danez Smith

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Memorial Dive by Natasha Trethewey

Corrina A-Maying the Apocalyple (poems) by Darcie Dennigan

The Tradition (poems) by Jericho Brown (Sean)



Hello Dolly! (Bianca)

The Woman in the WIndow

The Mummy

The Mummy Returns (Eri)

The Quiet Man (Joe)

Get on up (Sean)



Where to Invade Next (Amber)



David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Kevin)



Attack on Titan, Hulu (Amber)

RuPaul's Drag Race, VH1 (Bianca)

Electric Dreams, Prime Video (Sam)

Catherine the Great, HBO

I Know This Much is True, HBO

Unorthodox, Netflix (Sean)

Music (Albums)

Get Acoustic by The Megas (Eri)

Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? By The Cranberries (Joe)

Live at the Fillmore West by King Curtis

Down By The River by Buddy Miles

All Things Must Pass by George Harrison (Kevin)

Gone Now by Bleachers (Sam)

Acoustic Soul by India.Arie (Sean)

Music (Songs)

"Michelle" by Sir Chloe (Amber)

"You Pulled a Switch" by Switch

"That's The Was of the World" by Earth, Wind, and Fire (Bianca)

"Leviathan" by Volbeat

"Bounty Hunter" by Mike Cross

"Colors" (stripped) by Halsey

"Hello My Old Heart" by The Oh Hello's

"The Hearse" (Ssripped) by Matt Maeson (Eri)

"Heartbreak Anniversary" by GIVEON

"N'y pense plus" by Tayc

"telepatía" Kali Uchis

"Don't Let Go" by Tolü Makay

"Nathy Pelusa: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 36" by Nathy Peluso with Bizarrap (Sean)

YouTube Artists

Tee Noir (for video essays and commentary (Amber)

Video Games

Gris (Amber)


Portal 2 (Eri)


Editor in Chief / Fiction Editor | Joseph M. Reynolds
Managing Editor | Samuel Marx
Poetry Editor | Sean Frederick Forbes

Nonfiction Editor | Thomas Keith
Book Review Editor | Amber Smith
Film Review Editor | Cassandra Steele
Music Review Editor | Kevin Carr
Layout/Design | Erica Lauer

Head of Fundraising | Loretto Leary

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