I knew since their first issue that Camera Obscura would be one of my favorite literary journals. It's stylish without neurosis, smart without smugness, relevant without pandering. It's weird how easy a journal like this can make the format and how, well, obsolete it can make other journals.
It's not the photography that makes CO seem bigger--though it certainly doesn't hurt--but the boldness of the fiction which, much like the design, always seems to be doing several things at once without falling into any of the usual traps. Like the photographs, it's always worldly and adroit and, damnit, just hard to look away from. Take the opening to Vincent Czyz's "The Nameless Saint":
It was the hour when the lamplighter, toting a ladder over his shoulder, made his tedious rounds; when workers slogged through the streets as though souls on their way to purgatory; when bones turning to dust in graveyards unexpectedly shifted like a heap of logs burning on the grate. This was not the quarter of Samirska lit by theaters and cafes, cabarets and fine restaurants--a quarter smiling like a crescent moon in the dusk--here the restaurants had bare wooden floors and for a drima offered a bowl of cabbage soup or, for a few more, greasy stew and a slice of black village bread. here, mounted gendarmes patrolled the streets in pairs or not at all.
You want to read the rest of that story and the rest of that issue.
Of course, I have a story here which you probably don't want to read and is mostly notable for having taken its title from the repeated line in an Arthur & Yu song ("1000 Words") that Dave turned me onto a long time back. It seems appropriate to me that the story ended up in a journal with a photography emphasis, and I'm thrilled it's there.
Please help them out by subscribing here or by checking your local Barnes & Noble. Unless you're in Topeka in which case I think my parents already bought them all. See, that's how much I care. I told my parents, and they don't even know where I live.*
*That's probably not true.
What each Royal is presumably thinking during this picture. Royals hat-tip to Anders for sending me both links.
Hosmer: Hey, Stephen Malkmus knows who I am! Just like I know that "Jenny and the Ess-Dog" is the best song he's ever written. Well, there's "Tide to the Oceans" but that's a Silver Jews song and really it's only co-written.
Davies: I can't believe they haven't caught on to the fact that I haven't been on this team for two months. Just keep wearing blue and showing up every five days and nobody asks questions. It's unbelievable. Kinko's figured it out after a month, and I was even good at that job. Maybe if I throw left-handed next start...
Collins: Wait until I tell the Make-A-Wish Foundation how well this worked out. Sure, I might be Benjamin Button-ing back into a baby, but at least I look cool with my glasses hung like this...O, go to hell, Getz.
Getz: If I get released am I going to disappear from this picture like Marty McFly? I should ask Davies if that keeps him up at night, too. I wonder if he's Jewish. I'd like a Jewish friend. His real first name is Hiram and Hiram Davies sounds Jewish, but he's also from Georgia...wait, is Hosmer humming "Cut Your Hair"?
Things That Confuse Me about the Paperboy Universe
(This is about the Nintendo video game Paperboy not, like, the real paperboy universe which features fewer tornadoes yet considerably more angry dogs. You can play the game here if you're not familiar).
* The audience for the obstacle course. Note: not the obstacle course itself which, somehow, I can fit into my conception of the world. No, it's the people who rise at 5:30 a.m. to sit in bleachers and cheer the rare paperboy who completes his route that make me question the verisimilitude of this game. Too far, I say.
* The newspaper's coverage of its own paperboy hirings and firings. I mean, I can see something in the Community section, but front page? Day after day? When there's breakdancing in the streets and Death roams the city?
* The house painting. I mean, I get deciding to unsubscribe from the local paper is a big decision, but it's not the War of the Roses, here. A good paperboy can avoid throwing papers to yellow houses just as easily as red ones. It's, like, days two through three of the training.
* Housewives chasing paperboys with rollingpins. What is it about the paperboy that turns everyone into this city into Mrs. Capp? And these are subscribers, too. The unsubscribers don't really seem to give a damn, even as you're breaking their windows. Of course, they might get cut down like a bunch of dirty Lancasters, so they probably just don't leave their houses at all.
* The tombstones in the front yards. It just sends a bad message to the breakdancers.
What's Currently Killing Me
1. Being out of coffee.
2. It being too hot to get coffee.
4. Replying to emails, phone calls, letters, owls, waves, punches.
5. The term "debt ceiling."
6. Tuesdays. Just as, like, a thing we can't do anything about.
7. Socks. Just as, like, a thing we can't do anything about.
8. The murderer.
9. Taco truck ennui.
10. Not these sweatpants.
Let me check my kitchen to see what I can throw together: (ingredients I have in bold)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups freshly brewed jasmine tea, cooled
3/4 cup gin
3/4 cup limoncello*
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup chilled club soda
6 lemon slices (for garnish)
So, water. I have the water-based ingredients. Previously I might have been impressed by my ability to provide these ingredients at a variety of temperatures, but now I need to step up my game. You know why? Here's why:
Things I Would Rather Be Doing Than Re-Reading My Novel
1. Finally deciding, for once and for all, whether my favorite type of soil is loamy sand or sandy loam.
2. Planning an Amanda Knox-themed murder mystery dinner party. Pizza! Tragedy! Pizza!
3. Arguing over what stats would be included if one were to--hypothetically--start a Fantasy Poetry league.
4. Writing this blog post, apparently.
5. Creating an even better version of the Four Pawns Attack--my favorite chess opening--called the Eight Pawns Attack which, presumably, I would like twice as much.
6. Emailing Bud Selig ideas for new All-Star game events like the Cake Walk, a game Jeff Francoeur can't participate in because he doesn't understand the basic concept of walking.
7. Plotting an elaborate scavenger hunt around Houston the only task of which is to eat at every Shipley's Do-nuts.
8. Playing two estranged siblings against each other until they realize it's me they don't like and come together to save Thanksgiving. Or, instead of actually doing that, just writing a family comedy about it while thousands of real siblings remain tragically estranged.
9. Inventing "Roller Basketball" because it suddenly seems like something that should exist.
10. Preparing my victory speech should I somehow win the Iowa Caucuses which, frankly, doesn't seem as unlikely as it probably should.
* Look, I was in Vermont for a month and made the very mature decision not to blog while there in order to concentrate on my Game of Thrones watching. And watched it was though somehow I still managed to post an Air Supply video and a picture of me getting--what the kids call--served. Priorities.
* I'm back now with nothing else to do this summer except learn French so expect more posts about garcons mangeing on pommes or whatever. That was three-quarters French so I'm almost there.
* You should check out my friend Angie's new blog Childhood Relived. Angie's hilarious and a mom and a hilarious mom. So glad I now have a venue for her pop culture musings that doesn't involve me flying to Nebraska and scheduling a dinner party.
* I think I'm going to start writing about books again. Just because, you know, why not. French books? O yeah. I lit the livres. Right now, I'm reading Terrence Holt's In the Valley of the Kings.
* So I've had some more Sire onLines out there though what you should really be interested in is the far more awesome work in these journals:
* I love Super Arrow. This is exactly what an online journal should be: everything a print journal can't be. Especially a fan of the collaborations between Steven Karl and Angela Veronica Wong.
* The new jmww has some writers I love who I didn't know I loved and plenty I already knew I loved, including Cupboard-er Andrew Borgstrom. Be sure to check out Gabe Blackwell's equation-based story.
* kill author is amazing. That's all, really. Really proud to be in there (as I am with all the others), and I especially dig Katie Jean Shinkle's "When All You Want Doesn't Want You."