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Occasionally, we get the opportunity to share our thoughts on the outside work of our past contributors, as well as other projects that we think would interest readers of A cappella Zoo. To send something for possible review, especially new work relevant to magic realism and slipstream, email us at


A novel by Phoebe Wilcox. Lilly Press, 2010.

Phoebe Wilcox contributed her short story “The Big Bang” to Issue 3 of A cappella Zoo, and her novel Angels Carry the Sun reveals a similar innate sense of the rawness, the power, and the beauty of language.

At age 18, Flora McDermott lives in a “snake pit” in rural Pennsylvania where she shares a bedroom with her trendy sister and her hippie mom. Flora delights in wreaking lustful havoc on Finn, her high school English teacher--what lover of poetry wouldn’t have a hard time resisting Flora’s “Freudian sex-dream” poems? It is Flora's mission to seduce Finn that propels the reader through this novel about family, memory, and growing up. Flora, self-proclaimed “punk,” is a refreshing female protagonist, and she shocks, challenges, and invites the reader throughout this “tale of love, lust, and lyricism.”

Although Wilcox’s novel is closer to realism than readers of A cappella Zoo might generally be attracted to, Wilcox’s lyrical wordplay will pull in any reader. It is the space the characters inhabit that creates the magic that readers of magical realism, slipstream, or experimental literature crave. In Angels Carry the Sun snowflakes appear as the lint falling slowly from a giant pocket, briar bushes and telephone lines are crocheted with snow, and our protagonist Flora’s mood changes with the rooms around her. Short and effective surrealistic similes create spaces of enchantment in the realistic landscape. Even punctuation comes to life in self-reflexive metaphors that make the final sentence of nearly every paragraph sing. Wilcox’s unique narrative voice is enough to forgive the occasional inconsistency in point of view, and her complex structure winds smoothly through this twist on the standard coming of age story.

It’s hard to put this one down and hard to leave Flora behind once the book is through. Luckily, many of the scenes will stay with readers for days after.

- Amanda DiSanto, assistant editor, A cappella Zoo

Visit Phoebe Wilcox's website, watch her read from Angels Carry the Sun, or watch her talk about the novel.