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Armchair / Shotgun No. 2

Published occasionally, and for good reason, Armchair / Shotgun is a very good buy at $10.00.

12/08/11

Armchair / Shotgun, a journal of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry edited in Brooklyn, is, as the masthead states, “published occasionally, and for good reason.”

They do not lie. Issue No. 2 appeared recently and, in addition to literary work, it features a stunning selection of color photos by LA photographer Cory Schubert. Mostly shots of Los Angeles architecture, both melancholy and kitschy, the photos are drenched in blue and white, ochre and orange, are nearly devoid of humans, and together create a landscape, in Schubert’s own words, “timeless in the wash of the California Sun.” There’s also a spread of photos in an archaeological vein by visual artist Sono Osato.

It should be said that the art doesn’t stop at these two photo spreads, however. Each new section of poetry or fiction is introduced by a black and white reproduction of something like a real estate plan or topographical chart. Altogether, Armchair / Shotgun is beautifully laid out and printed, a bold statement in this twilight time of print.

“The Kill Sign,” a story by Marvin Shackelford, is a weird riot about a guy named John Peters, whose dog Roscoe offends the neighbor, Angel van Gogh, by constantly humping her dog. Angel, fetching in her bad-toothed way, becomes a suspect when Roscue turnes up having ingested antifreeze. As John opines, “It’s sweet so you can bet he ate a lot.” While poor Roscoe’s fate remains uncertain, John gets his revenge and then some. An oddly delightful tale for when you’re feeling used.

Through a series of sharply etched conversations, Armchair’s editor Kevin Dugan creates a kind of living CV profile of novelist Jesse Ball, writer of the novels Samedi the Deafness, The Way Through Doors, and most recently, The Curfew. It’s a great full piece about a writer still in the early years of his career. Dugan grounds the piece with ruminations on Ball’s influences, including Kafka (“I actually find him really funny. I would be riding the subway reading The Castle, and I’d miss my stop because I’d be laughing and laughing”) and Hawthorne (“I like Hawthorne. He also has a delight in words”).

The poetry has a delight in words, too. Alanna Bailey must have been tickled pink when the journal accepted her poems: they are her first to be published and read as solid, midcareer work. They’re featured along with poems by Alicia Dreilinger, Matthew Montesano, and others, ranging from more or less traditional (Bailey’s “Pomegranite”) to Brian Morrison’s prose poem, “When the Cinderblocks Came.”

The journal’s an intelligent mix of writers from inside and outside the academy, and of newcomers and established writers, and the whole thing is packaged with an artful and comforting sense of the importance of quality. Published occasionally, and for good reason, Armchair / Shotgun is a very good buy at $10.00.

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    Samedi the Deafness
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    The Way Through Doors
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    Within the Frame
    David duChemin

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3 Comments

  1. Alex M. Pruteanu said on 12/08/11 at 12:30 pm Reply

    I found Kafka’s Castle funny as well…until the end…when there is no end…it just stops. (Kafka never finished the novel) And then I cursed him. And I still do. Amerika is fun, though. Also kind of funny is how much Kafka was freaked out by his girlfriend Felice’s teeth. What is NOT funny is that I know all of these useless facts, and that they take up space in my brain, and that I’ve never been on Jeopardy. But I digress. Thanks for this write up, Tony. I totally want to read The Kill Sign. Up my alley.

    Reply

    Tony Abbott said on 12/08/11 at 7:30 pm

    I completely agree about Kafka, if you’re prepared to laugh with a breaking heart. He so captured the sentiment of the era: you must get in, you can’t get in. Akk. I imagine he was a laugh riot over a glass of ale, and always a few steps ahead of you, like a chess master.

  2. Jordan Blum said on 12/12/11 at 2:43 pm Reply

    ….Apparently, I need to read some Kafka.

    Reply

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