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Air in the Paragraph Line #13

As if I didn’t have enough problems, Air in the Paragraph Line #13 recently landed in my lap. It was sent to me by a distant acquaintance with dubious motives. I consider it nothing less than an all-out assault on my mental health. I didn’t know quite what to make of this thing when it arrived — and I still don’t. At first glance it might seem to be some sort of artsy literary journal. I mean, it has art on the cover, nice typographical layout, a perfect bound volume of 200+ pages with short stories by over a dozen authors. But upon further inspection, it reads more like a zine, full of the sort of deranged rantings I’d expect in a photocopied DIY punk publication from the 1980s (with the sort of proofreading that implies). So what the hell is this thing anyway? According to the official website it’s “a print journal of absurdist and outsider fiction.” I don’t really know what that means, but as I read through these selections randomly, I seemed to encounter all the “outsider” stuff first. At least I assume that’s what it is. These stories definitely run counter to the highbrow literary expectation one might have expected from the cover. They are low-down and gritty. Not gangster-fantasy noir-gritty, but real-life gritty. Many of these stories are bleaker than bleak, the sort of thing I imagine Samuel Beckett or Thomas Bernhard would read when feeling just a little too hopeful. There is also some humor here and there, but of course it is of the darkest variety. Then I encountered some of the “absurdist” pieces, and I really don’t know what to say about those except that I may have permanent brain damage. Approach this one with extreme caution. You can get it online cheap. But don’t say you weren’t warned.

Published inBooks & Reading

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