Dog-ear — or Donkey-ear if you’re German — or Pig-ear if you’re South African — is a bookmark that thinks like a magazine, or a magazine that can used as a bookmark. Either way, like the equally wonderful Matchbook Stories, it’s a object that proves the maxims “more than a mouthful goes to waste” and my favourite “a simple idea done well”.
Nine panels, each with a cherry picked short story, poem or illustration to stop you folding the page down. I eat with my elbows on the table. I drink cappuccinos after eleven. I have even poured white wine into a glass that previously held red. But the line is very firmly drawn at creasing the page corner over. Thank you Pete and Joe.
It’s free from stockists listed on the site, or being egalitarian a printable pdf is provided to make your own. The Tattered Page Liberation Front starts here.
For those wondering, Matchbook Stories is the creation of Kyle Petersen who publishes a super short story of not more than 300 characters inside a matchbook cover. I would be a very happy literary arsonist but it’s impossible to get a book unless you live Stateside. No mailbag fires and Fedex wont ship matches.
My story “Foundation” was short listed for Issue one, read it on the site.
If we’re being inclusive I ought to give a shout-out to Stack, a service that posts you a fresh independent magazine once a month. The wonderfulness doesn’t stop there, like a tangerine in a Christmas stocking they are prone to popping a present into the bottom of the envelope. Which is where Dog-ear raised its head. Stack will be solving my present list come December.
I sense a new game… Bookmark, Matchbook, Rack.
I tried to take Will Ashon’s portrait. Somehow things got mixed up and it ended as an iPhone thing. Here’s what we have to say about it…
Shorter is an app for iPhone and iPad featuring a collection of eighty nine very short stories by Will Ashon for very short trips. A random story is chosen for you to read each time the app is opened. Making it an ideal companion for travel (a story between stops) or toilet breaks.
New stories will be automatically added at unexpected moments, magically sent over the airwaves without having to download the app again, with a little red dot marking their arrival.
Will Ashon is the author of two novels “Clear Water” and “Heritage” both published by Faber and Faber. The app comes decorated with a lovely illustration by Timothy Hunt. It costs 69p, less than a penny a tale and will last longer than a Mars Bar, unless you are an exceptional slow eater.
Here’s what other people have said about it…
“…excellent value for money; the stories never disappoint with their surreal take on early 21st-century life” – Nicola Presley, The Literary Platform.
Read the full review
“A dead-on depiction of early 21st Century life that soon gives way to something much wilder and stranger. The best collection of short stories I’ve read in years.” – Matt Thorne (Cherry, 8 Minutes Idle, Prince)
“Funny, smart, playful, twisted and devastatingly precise” – Peter Hobbs (The Short Day Dying, I Could Ride All Day In My Cool Blue Train)
I once did some work for the man who designed Bluewater, which led me to read Clearwater, a book by Will Ashon. I liked it. So I wanted to take his portrait. By some curious twist of fate this translated into “shall we make an iPhone app”.
So we did.
It will be available soon from all good iTunes stores for iPad, iPhones and iThings. It features 89 very short stories by Mr Ashon and because every book needs a cover and because fate has already played a hand, why not, I thought, ask Timothy Hunt better known as Fickle Fate to draw some nice pictures for it. Which he did. Which was nice.
So there you go. My first iPhone app featuring stories from Will Ashon and a drawing by Timothy Hunt. I’ll let you know when you can buy a copy.
Perhaps a celebratory portrait is in order?
Normally I have to muster forth with something pithy and witty to write about a new magazine title that my palms are itching to hold and gently peel apart. But not so for Baron, for their copy is too good not to just speak for itself…
Enter Baron, The Erotic Paperback Magazine for gentlemen and ladies who enjoy a cocktail, chit chatting about modern art, fine dressing and when the lights faint and the gin runs out, become connoisseurs at taking their companion into bed. When the curtains are drawn, their companion close by, a delicious set of under garments are exposed, a camcorder pulled from beneath the four poster bed and a pair of bespoke leather handcuffs revealed. Meet Baron, at the core of human desire, to be read in one hand and never left to gather dust. Issue One stars the charming adult entertainers Paige Turner, Syren Sexton and Zex, Baron explores The Pubic Wars – Playboy versus Penthouse, bonds with the very delightful film director Bruce LaBruce, drinks tea with a Madam and discusses double penetration with gay porn star Colby Keller. Baron uncovers the Last Peep Show in Soho and chats film making with the UK biggest adult entertainers, Harmony. The issue is brimming with tantalizing art and fashion from the worlds finest perverts: Adrian Wilson, Aids 3-D, Anne de Vries, Antje Peters, Aaron McElroy, Bill Durgin, Blommers/Schumm, Bruce LaBruce, Michael Grieve, Pedro Ramos, Pinar Yolacan, Robi Rodriguez and our cover star, the gifted photographer Qui Yang.
… I’ve got mine, get yours
Their web home
Poke them if that’s the sort of thing you like doing www.facebook.com/baronpaperbackbook
The magazine’s continuing war against my wallet, just ordered…
Acne Paper Issue No13 The Body
I’ll admit it, it was actually hearing editor Thomas Persson’s sexy voice that made me want to buy. Perhaps all magazines should be made to have audio introduction by their creatives. Acne appear to actually be a fashion label, Swedish Acne Studios, unlike Vice and American Apparel which appear to be co-joined in some sort of way, Acne is a direct product of the clothing company but intriguingly isn’t about fashion specifically. There’s a lot of art and photography including a favourite of mine Malerie Marder, with essays interspersed.
There’s a large selection of pages online to browse through just small enough so you can’t read the copy. I only hope the hard copy has that yummy shiny-paper offset-litho-printed smell so Persson and his crew can stimulate all my senses (I’ve yet to lick the page).
Meant to include this is my last round-up of new titles I desire. I’ve followed Sex+Design’s blog for a while so was intrigued when they announced a physical version. To pluck three disparate contributors from the debut issue “Foreplay” (see what they did there?) you get: JT LeRoy, author of “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”; Eine, the graffiti artist who has brightened up my neighbourhoods; Fox Harvard the prolific but always fresh nude photographer, I particularly like the way he sees no difference between film and Instagram. How could it not be a win? Still saving since postage to home is as much as the cover price.
It heartens me somewhat that even with the deluge of blogs and online publications the official figures on the sales on paper based magazines are up along with a record number of new titles. Digital printing has brought in a new wave of fanzine, now in colour rather than Xeroxed.
The downside is acquiring enough pocket money to buy them all. Desired on the internet newsstand right now are…
“A flamboyant magazine”. Very high on my want list. Et Alors comes on like a proper newsagent monthly only full of the sort of the content that never makes it into its vanilla counterparts. Their mission statement – fun, fashion, fetish, art, gender, BDSM, literature, gay, culture, glamour and icons. Saving my pennies as I type.
“Our food is pushed out of refrigerators to make room for dark canisters”. Focussing on real film, miffed I missed getting Issue 1 ‘Enamored’ before it sold out but still available as a super cheap PDF, featuring the ubiquitous Fox Harvard.
From Uwe Jens Bermeitinger and Hans Bussert, previously of Nude Paper. Nudes interspersed with missives from the cultural front.
A black and white A6 publication more in keeping with fanzines of old, featuring a couple of expresso hits each from a large cast including Alexander Bergström, Aaron Feaver, David Richardson, Corrado Dalco, Joseph Story and Synchrodogs amongst many many more.
I have two portraits in the forthcoming book “Nude Closeup” edited by EG Irwin, to be published early November from Publishers Graphics.
Sourced from online portfolios it promises the subtle to edgy. More details and purchasing information as and when available.
Slightly tenuous reason to post I know: the portrait I took of Nicolas Royle as been used on the jacket of “Murmurations – Uncanny stories about bird”, an anthology of short stories about… well kind of self explanatory.
That said, it’s worth publicising, as an editor he has an excellent eye, or is it ear, for short stories. Along with Daphne du Maurier’s almost compulsory “The Birds” there’s “The Beautiful Room” by RB Russell, originally only available in a short run chapbook and a new story by Tom Fletcher. The last being reason enough for me, his “The Safe Children” being a modern horror classic.
Add to that all proceeds going to the RSPB. With the nights drawing in grab a copy to read a story on those dark train journeys home from work.
Brian Sergio is a photographer and artist working out of the Philippines. Remember how I said I loved people who make things? Well, Brian’s printed up a ‘zine of snaps and stuff done over the last year. This sort of behaviour has to be encouraged, yes?
Ordered my copy, more news when it arrives…
Rong-Wrong is new literary periodical being published out of Amsterdam, the premier issue should roll of the presses come May.
Named in honour of Marcel Duchamp’s short-lived magazine, it is concerned with the “poeticisation of phenomenology”, a lovely phrase, or in more everyday language – the essential meaning of something. As Roger-Pol Droit asks, “How are things?”.
For my particular thing I was asked to contribute a subjective view of the pocket.
Further information and where to obtain a copy will be announced on their website:
Although it has absolutely nothing to do with my article what so ever, I would like to end with something from my favourite poet, Anne Baker.
An Englishman’s home
Piles of stone
Big front door
This property ladder
Couldn’t be madder
I read that in some Kenyan state
a pocket in your trousers
I’ve been wanting to say something on Ewan Morrison’s “Menage” since reading it but felt I had perhaps posted enough on the author, there comes a point where stalker-ism starts to raise it’s shadowy head. Then 3:am magazine mentioned that the writer had started putting a series of films “Tales from the Mall” on YouTube. Literally just mentioned, there is a little about it on ewanmorrison.com but virtually no background information on YouTube itself.
These films are not adverts for a book as publishing companies are starting to promote titles with, but self-contained short spoken word pieces accompanied by visuals. There are no actors, a single voice reads them out against grainy hand-held video footage, or a montage of still imagery. The shorts are created by Morrison himself.
Here are two of my favourite
Incident in a Carpark- Tales From The Mall
Suicide Attempt- Tales From The Mall
I can’t think of another author who is venturing into the realms of multimedia so directly, authoring the content himself rather than collaborating. More surprising is his opening up the project and asking for submissions from the public.
I was intrigued and very kindly he answered a series of questions about the films, the reasons behind the project, and the outcomes so far. Although I’ve presented it as an interview it is in fact strung together from a series of emails. I have tried to quote verbatim but dabbled a little with the order of things for the sake of readability.
Ewan Morrison’s Tales from the Mall
In your blog you mention as research for your next novel you interviewed a wide range of people working in shopping malls. Rather than treating this material as source you’ve instead launched the Tales from the Mall project. Obvious question: why?
I’m taking a break from novel writing because, frankly I’m finding non-fiction, sociology and short fiction are the only thing that are really compelling right now. Dave Eggers “Zietoun” is a good model of socially active writing, telling of real stories. So many novels these days are just ‘making stuff up’, rewriting history (badly), setting fun feisty characters into predictable dilemmas. As a result novels seem to be more about fulfilling the format of what a novel is (a great read etc) than about the real world beyond. Writing a good novel is like getting a gold star on your report sheet for colouring in with all the right colours, inside the boxes without going over the edges.
In “Menage” it seemed some of the more sociological commentary found in “The last book you read” and “Swung” was replaced, the plot put in a more complex albeit filmic narrative structure – more of a conventional crowd pleaser. Is Tales from the Mall perhaps a reaction to omitting your usual questioning to the directions society is moving in?
Writing novels in this economic climate is a bit like doing watercolours as the city burns. The Euro and the Dollar are going into steady decline and frankly it might make more sense to be planting vegetables and learning how to shoot a rifle, than engaging in any cultural activity.
Why Tales from the Mall? Well, I truly believe that anyone who is forty and who has lived through the acceleration of the phases and methods of consumerism will wake up one day and say – shit, but I’ve seen all this before. By this I mean gadgets, adverts, trends, fashions, discoveries, news stories, wars. I’ve recently crossed a certain line where everything I take in from everywhere is like a deja-vu and a little bit of sociological reading has thrown this in perspective (I recommend anything by Zygmunt Bauman). The naked fact is that for all the innovation and supposed change we are living lives of cyclic repetition. We are going nowhere, everything has planned obsolescence built into it, and also amnesia, so we’ll come back to get more of the same.
I’m not talking just about commodities but bigger things in life, jobs, relationships. Over the last forty years we’ve moved from a job and a partner for life to temp freelance labour and causal dating. This may sound like a random connection until one day you wake up and find that internet dating is now the biggest growth business on the planet and that you’ve just re-made your CV for the 40th time and are out of work again, with no guarantee of ‘security’.
Was deciding to produce short films on YouTube – an example of our current throw-away culture with its clips stripped of context – a way of placing them in a more communal context?
I wanted to actually look, like an anthropologist, at the real ways malls have affected human behaviour, not just in planned ways. To find the eccentric and unexpected behaviours that people engage in shopping malls, and to this end I went interviewing close to a hundred mall workers in about fourteen different malls, to get their stories, folk tales, urban myths, jokes and confessions.
I want this to be an experiment in what the expanded e-book can be. With audio and video and an archive of stories by other people, links to films and docs that can help inform the subject and expand it outwards.
Does making them into short films allow for more freedom in their presentation, allowing a looser way of story telling than a novel would. Mixing devices from television, film and oral traditions.
I don’t have a hierarchy in my mind between short stories and novels, novels aren’t better because they’re bigger. Anyway, there’s not many books of interrelated short stories out there at the moment, so I get to innovate with this as a form. Also I’m mixing short stories with factoids and images.
Experimental non-fiction has less defined ’boxes’ and it has direct social relevance.
I think it’s really important to operate on a level without ambition or the idea of being a success as a reward for your work. I’m finding a simpler quieter way of working these days, and have come to appreciate the austerity of Kelman and the seclusion of Salinger. I would like to head towards something like that.
Perhaps also writing about video art rekindled a joy in making visual stories?
I have made films since I was 17 and these new ones are not the kind of thing that anyone is going to be able to hype. They are quiet little films, made because I like the process of editing and making, adding music and images, and because the stories are really simple and I think need to be told.
I used to be a TV director before that vocation practically vanished.
Is the series more experimental in that you don’t have a plan and just seeing where it might go, or seeing what new forms of story telling ‘new’ media allows?
The last thing I want anyone to say about Tales from the Mall, is that it is innovative or exciting or new. This is horse-shit. It’s no different from what the surrealists were doing, mixing images, films and poetry, or for that matter the propaganda wing of any government in the last 100 years.
I worked for many years in the media, whose job it is to keep feeding people the lie that something new is actually happening.
Of course by offering the work in a YouTube format, using computers and software in it’s creation, it beacons a consumerist work itself.
I am a consumer, and not some kind of marxist scholar. I am a hypocrite and a bourgeois. Although I don’t have a TV and don’t ‘buy’ new clothes, I shop at my local supermarket and run a car, I work freelance and have ‘shopped’ for partners online.
I wanted to dig into the root of the rot and dare ask myself the question – how much of a consumer am I? is there anything else that I am? What else do I do? How has consumerism shaped me (after all corporations have been employing world leading psychologists, since before I was born, with the sole intent of making us consume more).
Malls are the homes of consumerism, like kennels for dogs. More than that, in their accumulative power they have re-shaped our urban architecture, our sense of values, of city and community. Glasgow where I live, was a mall experiment – how many can you squeeze into on city? I wanted to wake myself and other up to the fact that Glasgow is no longer the sad post industrial place of the folk ballads – ’it was tears that made the Clyde’, but one of the most consumerist centres in the western world. Buchanan street is in fact the seventh largest ’retail avenue’ in the Globe. A better example of how a leftwing working class has let themselves be transformed into amnesiac credit card users, would be harder to find.
People are adaptable, and never wholly victims or dupes. I’ve discovered many things about what people secretly do in malls that have surprised me.
Is this what led to opening up the project and requesting other people’s contributions?
I’ve invited other people to contribute their stories, for two reasons.
This thing is bigger than me and it’s only when looking at a lot of material that we can begin to see common themes emerge – i.e the fact that many malls stories, feature both divorce and fear of children.
I’m creating a hub, or a space, shaped a bit like a mall, in which people can set up shop alongside my anchor stores (or stories). I’m interested in talking to and working with web and e-book designers, film makers, image makers or anyone who has stories to tell about experiences in Britain’s shopping malls.
Do you think creating these short films could be something that could have a revenue stream in itself… advertising, or paid content? Or more to see how spoken word stories could be pushed to into multimedia?
I do like the idea of selling individual short stories for a matter of pennies. Realistically though why would anyone buy a short story online when you can get a whole novel for peanuts. The market is reaching the bottom of the spiral into nothing, bestsellers in supermarkets retail at £2.99 now, that’s about 8p making it’s way back to an author per book in royalties. If you sell a million copies you make £80,000, that’s probably over three years. Which puts an international bestseller on the same income as a nurse.
Culture, as Adorno said, is an industry, it’s a sausage factory. Once you’ve hit forty and your kids start getting into pop and film and books, you see just how the wheel of cyclic obsolescence and re-selling works. There is nothing new or radical or even exciting in anything any ‘star’ is making right now, it’s all reproductions of reproductions. The only option really is to deliberately not try to go for making culture that is ‘exciting ’ or ‘hip’ or which can be packaged in that kind of way. I say this not as some kind of political strategy but as a means of personal survival. I find it very important to get away from all adverts and all hype and media in daily life.
Has it awoken any interest in starting a label or publishing house, with possible e-book releases/formats?
I do not have the energy, passion or learning to be one of these self-sustaining money-making web capitalists who rent out space for adverts on their web sites, and get paid per hit. I think publishers have a role, and they have to rediscover what it is in the digital age. It’s not really the author’s role to innovate in ’format’. And we are in a time of growing amateurism in all creative fields, self-publishing writers and groups of writers, schoolboy mafias self promoting themselves, trying to ’break thru’. Publishers should survive as people who we look up to as being arbiters of taste, as filters, to thin out the good work from the dross, in what is becoming a cacophony of look-at-me voices screaming into the digital void.
Spoken/oral traditions are in theory dying out but these are a good example of technology reviving the form – alongside the films have you thought about podcasts: just an audio file, perhaps distributed via iTunes with a free subscription. (Personally I think this idea very exciting; that content would be downloaded into people’s iPods for their commute into work, although I have no idea know if anyone actually uses podcasts like that in real life).
Tales from the Mall is going to keep on evolving, more films, more short stories, a book will come out of it and maybe a site, maybe iPod downloads. I have to keep it open to change and evolution.
Very excited as to what the mailbag will bring in the next few days.
As Nude Paper have just announced that the second issue is rolling off the press any day now, it seemed highly prudent to grab a copy of the premier issue while still in stock. It pertains to be a fashion magazine for the underdressed and oversexed. Mine’s in the post.
Boris Hoppek is a artist, painter and photographer I very much admire and feel a kinship with. He photographs nudes, and clothes them with the surreal and the bizarre. Where others might objectify he confounds and delights in his portrayal of the pin-up and porn. Imagine if David Lynch was a small Japanese cartoon character instead of a Hollywood director. He makes a very good hairy vinyl vagina too.
Not content with knitting bimbos he produces Lavagina – a magazine of ironic erotica. Naturally I had to have a copy.
A minor gripe, one the reasons I delayed in purchasing Nude Paper was trying to source a UK outlet for the magazine. As seems very common when purchasing internet magazines the postage can double the price. Nude paper is a very reasonable €8, plus €4.50 for it’s plain brown wrapper. Lavagina a bargain €6 but €10 to smuggle it into the UK.
Print publishing is a costly business and whilst willing to finance beauty that can be held between the palms, a tenner to receive it adds a sting to the tail (Apparently there is a postage standard called printed matter which is far cheaper). I for one would be willing to wait a little extra for my cheap parody of porn if I could save a bit on packing. Consider it foreplay.
Last January perusing Amazon I came across Michael Marshall Smith’s “What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night”. Published as a “chapbook” by Nightjar Press. It pertained to be a new work – of some significance as there hasn’t been anything by “MMS the speculative fiction author” for quite some time. Instead, only those by Michael Marshall the thriller writer, although recently some decidedly otherworldly elements have creepy into his work. That wasn’t a typo, just an awful pun. Sorry.
I should have jumped at the chance to purchase, but didn’t, and must admit it due to ignorance. Unsure as to what a chapbook is; I instead filed it away for further something or other. And forgot. Until a mention on 3AM jolted my memory. To find it sold out.
Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapbook) tells us that “a chapbook is a generic term covering a pocket-sized booklet, popular from the 16th through to the 19th century. No exact definition can be applied.” Very useful.
Before MP3 released us from the tyranny of the format there were two ways you could digest your music – the album (for adults) and the single. I am not referring to the media but the presentation. There is the EP but it’s really a bastard child, albeit a particularly cunning and clever changeling.
The heyday of the Seven inch was serendipitously in the Seventies. No nostalgia here. I am only keen on false remembrance – the mental construct of imagined times: things are better now. And the seven inch still exists.
But for a decade the single was sacrosanct. Peak sales were racked up in that decades first half, where a stateside hit could buy you a house. Or mansion. But its true cultural nascence hit with punk. Until then only the EP and album were donned with a printed sleeve. The throw-away pop disk wore a plain black or white wrapper. Punk gave rise to the printed jacket, adverts boastfully proclaimed “with picture sleeve” (let us ignore coloured vinyl). (Though in Africa singles were sleeved in the cast-off backing paper used to print table cloths, a far more colourful and apposite decoration.)
Better writers have eulogised on the singles anthropological impact. Bill Drummond in 45 and Nick Hornby repeatedly. What is agreed, is that palpable sense of excitement, of anticipation. Bringing the disk home. Slipping it out of the paper bag. Poring over the sleeves decoration, studying it to yield clues as to what lay beneath (bands were bought on recommendation, on hearsay). For punk made the adornment as intrinsic as the music. Elevated it from object to artifact.
And when it lived up to expectation: the rush, a whole world encompassed in three and half minutes. To be transported back there: placing the needle back at the spirals start and spinning again. And again. And again.
Where it differed from the EP or the album was this monosyllabic rush. This epitome. This zenith, that screamed I am it, I am all you need, your three and a half minute fantasy. I believe the average time for another act. The fact the flip was called a B side already relegated it to an apology, a mechanical necessity. For the curious and the fan boy.
If the short story is the power-chord pop equivalent of the mature concept album novel, then unfortunately it can only be served in the collective form, the EPs suffocation of the anthology. What is needed is a format where it can sing its single praise.
I’m sure everyone has got the chapbook analogy long before I labored this metaphor home.
Suppose a story so scintillating, so self-contained it needs only a cover of it’s own. In Nicholas Royle’s words, who runs the press, “deserves a cover of it’s own”.
So we return to Nightjar, publishing single stories in the speculative arena. Each one wrapped within an especially designed full-colour jacket, published in limited edition, currently around the 250 mark. Beautiful objects holding up their belief in themselves high above the impending wave of print-on-demand and e-books. A little sliver of goodness you hold in your hand, and know slipping it to a friend will pass with it a shiver of delightful badness.
This tale may have had a gloomy ending so fondly sought in gothic fiction, but at the eleventh hour I managed to attain the remaining copy of MMS. Currently in the post.
Also sold out is Tom Fletcher’s “The safe children”, a modern reinvention of the horror story with no recourse to the supernatural. A fantastic tale that lingers (or is that loiters) long after conclusion. Highly recommended but unavailable, so, before the other titles sell out, do yourself a favour and purchase the chapbooks still in stock. Don’t let your fear of an unknown format spoil your chance to indulge in some fear of the unknown modern gothic undoings.
As an end note, a coda, Postcard Records (who brought us Orange Juice) started a singles club. Where for a subscription you were posted a monthly release. With only faith in the labels taste that each proffering would cling to your heart. Continued by Subpop in the 80s with Nirvana and currently Moshi Moshi with Slow Club.
Both Salt and Route offer/ed a book club where you receive/d a jamboree of next editions (Route no longer). So pretty please (or dark ugly dank please) Mr Nightjar can we have a chapbook club to save us forgetting to monitor the blog and thus miss an edition. In the meantime for the price of a pint purchase a perfectly-bound-it’s-own-sleeve-3-minute-burst-of-literary-single.
Flashglamtrash is a collective who share an unhealthy delight in all things salacious. Part culture, part titillation, frequently funny, practically always not safe for work.
My work has again been invited, thank you Magnus. I’m really looking forward to getting my palms on a copy, between the covers will be great company. Bruce LaBruce, Dido Fontana and Corporate Vampire are already treading the sticky carpet.
Flaunt it. It’s going to be a party. More news as it happens.
A little walk from distribution, along a magazine, reaching a story.
I recently came across Stack or as they put it //STACK, one of those ideas so fantastically simple you wonder why it was never done before. Each month for a subscription fee Stack send you an example issue from a range of magazines culled from around the world. Vaguely left field independently published titles, the kind unlikely to be found down the corner shop news agents.
From among the smorgasbord of possibilities being offered a taster of Fire & Knives is a very intriguing prospect. Bite before buy, so to speak. The only thing that may stop me from taking up an immediate subscription is opting for just a course of another magazine they offer.
All-Story is a heavyweight fiction affair from Francis Ford Coppola’s Zeotrope stable. Each issue has a guest designer, such luminaries as Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Marilyn Minter and Laurie Anderson. Add to that fiction from Sam Shepard, Ryu Marakami, Haruki Murakami, Andre Dubus… one word: want.
Some of the content is online, like offering kids their first taste in the playground for free. Including a hit from one of my favourites…
When I first mentioned using social media feeds like Twitter to publish fiction or poetry the standard practice was to post a link to the latest episode. An obvious solution to the limit of Twitter’s 140 characters or a 160 letters for SMS. (Ever wondered what the Hillebrand number is?)
Since then authors like Will Ashon have attempted to subvert Twitter’s form and create an episodic tale through it, such as his twitter.com/trundlespike. Others try to stay within the character limits to produce a single self-contained story in the same vein as short shorts (my favourite generic term for flash fiction and it’s ilk).
But for me short publishing has been usurped by an idea so simple and brilliant you wonder why no-one has thought of it before, and it doesn’t utilise a digital platform, it uses a warmly familiar media…
Nestling between Twitters letter count and the 100 word limit of a drabble it promises the writer 300 characters in which to forge their tale, to be printed on the inside flap of a match book cover. It’s creator Kyle Petersen plans to strike out with the first edition in March, a man who deserves to become a leading light in the publishing world.
OK, enough of the puns already but it is a fantastic idea, and it’s being self financed by Petersen so he deserves a round of applause and hugs, and I’m not just saying that to win favour in the hope that one of my submissions graces the inaugural book. Please.
He’s blogging the project’s progress at matchbookstory.blogspot.com.
Litzines are made for the internet, no more stealing paper and toner from work. No more lurking by the photocopier. With digital publishing the notion of the issue dissolves slightly, 3am runs continuously, adding content at whim (great story by Alan McCormick just added), it is perhaps becoming the heavyweight contender with advertising and an editorial team.
Others soldier on as labours of love for as long as unrequited desire permits, Dogmatika is no longer active, a shame, but the printscape is constantly shifting with titles coming and going (Corium Magazine looks promising). The ease of electronic publishing does not however guarantee a satisfying read: the relentlessness of reading submissions, a good eye for a fluid aesthetic layout, the dedication to publish regularly. All of this is required, and wrought just for the love. And the love of literature at that. Not the bar-soaked slutty drug-fueled sticky shallow love that one could choose to pursue instead, to endure those unnoticed unrewarded dark hours of the lonely night. (note to self…)
There are some great litzines and their editor’s love and toil should be reciprocated, but in a strictly fluidless way mind. Ben Tanzer produces This Zine Will Change Your Life. It’s good. What I really like about it is his approach to the issue.
New editions are alerted via RSS or email, consisting of a single page: a story or a few poems; an mp3; and illustrative photography. No need to navigate, a little expresso hit, in-tray manageable. Building into a good body of work if you want to trawl the archives, Chris Killen is in there for example.
So here’s a shout-out for that zine, bookmark or subscribe.
It is common practice for literary journals to request previously published stories are not submitted.
I think I have found a quandary of the digital age: what happens when a story is accepted and published by a very fine litzine (Insolent Rudder in this case) but then the online only publication goes out of pixel (for one can’t say print?).
Unlike a story that had been printed in traditional media, where copies would still be around even when the publisher were not, in the digital realm that story has ceased to exist, it has been unpublished.
Does it then still count as previously published if no-one can point to a copy?
(It is not lost like a fabled masterpiece, for I still have a copy. Although, since I wrote it I know what happens, there’s little point in my reading it.)
What is the etiquette for missing stories?
Book clubs — not the reading sort, rather the publishing sort…
As the industrialised world turns digital one of the few media realms so far unaffected from the assault of file sharing programs is book publishing. But it is not immune to the vagaries of the recession.
In May Salt Publishing launched it’s JustOneBook campaign with the news that with the curtailment of the Arts Council funding it would close it’s doors unless it could sell enough books in the coming month to pay its debts back. Banks when they fail to make good business decisions get bailed with out tax money, publishers do not. And why should they you may ask? They shouldn’t, however they should be supported with all our heart when they put out consistently great titles, beautifully packaged and most importantly: harbour an adventurous oeuvre.
Book sales may be slowly climbing unlike it’s counterparts in the film and music trades, but with major book shop chains using their weight to batter down profit margins it is leading publishers to a homogeneous critique; best sellers only please. Salt take a gamble, putting out books they think are great, you know this is true when you see the volume of poetry titles they publish (www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/may/27/poetry-salt-publishing) – hardly a genre to bring you riches. Did I buy just one book? No.
And the answer’s not I brought two or similar punch line. (I once ran a record label which in the space of a few releases lost all our profit in producing gorgeous sleeves, distributing CDs for the cost of postage only and giving away tracks by our most famous artist as free mp3s, so I know something of producing things you love against commercial constraints). The reason I didn’t respond to the campaign is that I was already signed up to their book club.
For a flat fee of £40 you can join The Story Bank and receive over the course of the year four short story titles, 30% discount of any other books and a free copy of David Gaffney’s “Sawn-off Tales”. Do it now: www.saltpublishing.com/books/smf/subscribe.php.
I have mentioned before I owe a debt to Gaffney in giving me the faith to send my one paragraph tiny fictions to literary magazines. It isn’t just this reason that I bring up the Just One Book campaign now: Salt have announced that all there titles are now available through The Book Depository.
Most people seem to have forgiven Amazon over their quiet censuring of gay and adult tiles (www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/14/amazon-gay-sex-rankings-apology), I personally still find it a source of some concern, especially in light of the recent spate of other stories relating to Amazon’s heavy handed business negotiations:
The Disappearing Buy It Now Button
Amazon shrinking publisher profits with The Kindle
Amazon deleting content from your Kindle
The last story is perhaps testament to why a physical book may remain impervious to the digital realm a little longer, apart from being a thing of beauty to hold forever. I still buy from Amazon of course, at the end of the day the recession gets to us all and a cheap price is not to be sneered at, but allowing a single corporation to monopolise distribution is not a good idea. So now for the good news…
The Book Depository is as cheap as Amazon if not cheaper and postage is free worldwide. To celebrate I’m buying myself a copy of Nuala Ni Chonchúir’s “Nude”. May I also recommend Richard Bardsley’s “Body Parts”. I want Salt to be around to publish me or the poet Anne Baker so go on, buy one book.
To finish off with some symmetry… waiting for the plane on last year’s holiday I picked up a copy of Route Publishing’s “Ideas above our station” as it featured a short story by Sophie Hannah, who writes poetry alongside chilling tales of psychopaths, and found in the back details of Route’s book club. I joined, and today on the beach a year later I read the copy of “Born in the 1980s” I received via the club, thoroughly enjoyable (vote for it at the People’s Book Prize once you’ve brought your copy), and as a bit of icing featured a story by Chris Kellen whose blog of sardonic ennui I read. No sign of the book club on Route’s site which is a shame, so best join Salt’s before it too disappears. (Did I mention I got a handwritten note with my first arrival, is that not worth joining for alone?)
Reading on the beach means I should be entitled to make some awful pun about salt, sea and sand, but I wont.
I have two tiny fictions “Marriage” and “Minicab driver” in the second anthology of very short stories from Six Sentences.
I’d go for Createspace but those of us in the UK may find Amazon’s postage cheaper.
In fact, until the failamazon issue is satisfactorily explained I’d rather you did buy it from Createspace regardless of postage costs, I am.
Curiosity got the better of me, and bowing down to the pressure of my internal voices (you are just jealous because they don’t talk to you…) I asked Robert McEvily, editor of Six Sentences, which of the two stories I submitted were chosen for the second anthology.
I’ve received his reply and can now decode the cryptic headline to this post – both stories are to be included in the new volume of six sentence long tales. Particularly pleasing as one of them, “Wedding” was especially written for the collection, the other one is “Minicab driver”.
There’s more, the industrious Mr McEvily who deserves thanks and praise from writers everywhere for his hard work in providing such a splendid platform, has set a publication date – March 31st.
Today Six Sentences announced the initial list of authors chosen to be included in the second anthology of stories, all six sentences long.
And yes, they chose one of mine… rather happy.
I would like to tell you which story is being publishing, but at the moment all I know is that I’m in (and that’s good enough for me). I sent two, I’m hoping it’s “Marriage” as it was written especially for the collection, wonder if I’ll get to find out before seeing it in print? All the stories featured in it are previously unpublished and not available on the splendid site, so you will have to buy a copy if you want to read them.
Robert McEvily who runs Six Sentences announced the author list in rather unusual fashion: in a Youtube video featuring the names of those chosen matted against theatre curtains. You can watch here. I am a little red-faced to say I air punched when my name went by.
six sentences have published one of my short stories. thank you six sentences.
microfiction are very short stories under 100 words in length. flash fiction according to wikipedia is 250 to 1000 words long. six sentences aren’t wordist about things, just as long as it’s…
it is perhaps my favourite site of the ilk. a daily dose of literary loveliness can be yours by bookmarking:
(robert mcevily, if you are reading this, can you arrange for amazon uk to stock the book please?)
if six sentences sounds a little liberal and bohemian with it’s lack of word count, try these genres:
55 fiction (yes… 55 words or less)
a drabble (exactly 100 words long)
the 69er (exactly 69 words, careful when googling)
note that titles don’t count.
lunched with raconteur and artist michael atavar, who has been exploring the publication and distribution of books via e-casting, new media and social networking models. he has been in discussion with several companies over his forthcoming book, and proposed some intriguing ideas. a follow-up email included a link to www.futureofthebook.org, this article is particularly thought-provoking
twitter’s 140 character limit creates interesting boundaries on what could work: microfiction and poetry, tutorials, without slipping into thought-of-the-day affirmations.
dxn magazine is a free publication featuring short stories and non-fiction, it uses myspace as it’s only point of contact
futureofthebook mentions www.dailylit.com, a site where for $3.68 the book of your choice is sent in bite sized installments by email and rss. including iphones. michael proposed publishing microfiction as mobile txts for 20p a punt. the advent of the iphone and increasing popularity of smart phones with their larger and anti-aliased screens makes this a viable idea.
is 20p a good target price? how would you choose a story given the challenge to precis microfiction without revealing the content? is a subscription service a better model? would having the “editions” archived in a personalised rss feed make the perception of a “real” publication more tangible?