Amelia's Reviews > The Minus Times Collected: Twenty Years / Thirty Issues

The Minus Times Collected by Hunter Kennedy
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Sep 05, 12

Read in September, 2012

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 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]
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