The Minus Times started as a wicked insane broadsheet in 1992 and moved to become a full-on magazine packed with stories, interviews, collage and ephe...moreThe Minus Times started as a wicked insane broadsheet in 1992 and moved to become a full-on magazine packed with stories, interviews, collage and ephemera. Across the years, it featured early and otherwise-uncollected work of literary lights like Wells Tower, Patrick DeWitt, and Sam Lipsyte, rarities from Drag City musicians like David Berman and Will Oldham, and interviews with random personage from Stephen Colbert to Barry Hannah.
Twenty years' worth of issues create a collection thick enough to be a phone book for a mid-sized town. Early single-page issues are the kind of thing that, if you found one on the street, you'd look right and left and then pick the page up, fold it, and stick it in your back pocket so you could enjoy the insanity in your home. The first issue includes a personals section ("Lonely. I will compete against anyone for anything."), a poem, BLUE ACHE BLUES ("I looked out over Norway / There is no century, / There is no century"), and a pasted-in classified ad evoking Hemingway ("WHEELCHAIR: GOOD condition, $50, Wedding gown, never worn, size 6, $225") with Kennedy's handwritten commentary underneath: "a novel via classifieds."
And then there's the fiction – brutal and funny, usually just a page or two. Sam Lipsyte's "I Tried To Be A Beacon" follows a substitute teacher who gives the rich kids he works with a daily lesson in comparative misfortune. "THE FORT SMITH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESENTS: Hundred Wolfman March," a rare piece of fiction from cartoonist Brad Neely, features five DIY warewolves including one young man who retained the clippings of his former ponytail and affixes it in pieces across his torso.
Irreverent illustrations break up the text, including a healthy dose from Neely in his natural habitat. A political cartoon from David Berman features a lake or cloud reading "Social Security" with a crudely drawn penis dripping into the chimney of a house reading "U.S. Treasury." The caption, which may have offered some clue as to the above, has been scratched out. It harkens back to "Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts," a mimeographed 1960s institution including work from William S. Burroughs, Diane DiPrima, Allen Ginsberg, and Andy Warhol, plus about eight hundred tiny cartoon penises. "The best way to approach it is the same way to approach the New Yorker," Dodson says. "Read all the comics first. And then if you want to keep going, you can keep going." And it's true; if the above sparks a curiosity, you may very well enjoy the rest of it.
[See the rest of my review/article coming next month in Poets & Writers](less)
I love how far he pushed his ideas in this book, and while I feel like some of that depth meant that it had to be a long book, it could have absolutel...moreI love how far he pushed his ideas in this book, and while I feel like some of that depth meant that it had to be a long book, it could have absolutely lost 250-300 pages without sacrificing a single piece of plot or concept. Hoping his next book is a gut-punch after all this buildup. (less)
Tolstoy sets up the romantic relationships and then destroys them mercilessly, intricately, in something so benign as conversation. The challenge of s...moreTolstoy sets up the romantic relationships and then destroys them mercilessly, intricately, in something so benign as conversation. The challenge of starting with an affair between two ideally matched people that ends with one party completely losing her shit in a permanent way -- he sets the challenge and meets it in twenty different ways. And then everything is ruined, and then everything is fine.(less)
I was in St. Louis this week. I visited the Arch and knocked on it as if to determine its quality. I made up a game wherein I have the means to travel...moreI was in St. Louis this week. I visited the Arch and knocked on it as if to determine its quality. I made up a game wherein I have the means to travel to a new city for the sole occasion of reading a novel based in that city. (This game has one round.) For this round I picked The Slide by Kyle Beachy and read the whole thing over the course of two days. It’s an exciting book, full of imaginative bounds and small experiments and other freshness. I had an incredible feeling reading about downtown as I experienced downtown. The book was in my bag when I knocked on the Arch. Recommended.(less)