Tag Archives: Artifice Magazine

Three Print Magazines I Read Recently And Said WOW

1 May

Artifice 4

First, let’s celebrate the fact that Artifice lives and will continue to do so. (And yeah yeah, a little sad bummer tear for it going electronic, for the bye-bye to that slick little print format…okay, that’s enough, MORE GOODNESS TO COME FROM THEM.)

This issue does what Artifice set out to do: publish work that is aware (duh) of its own artifice. And I declare that it does it better than any of the previous (yes, still stellar) issues, because this stack of good words is also the most accessible (for me), the most purely collar-grabbing bunch so far (admittedly what I look for most in a mag is a bunch of stories fist-fighting and making out for my emotions and attention). A little selfishly perhaps, I was constantly thrilled to find a piece that made its point with the artifice and then leapt out at me and never let go.

Take this beginning to “& What Shoulder, & What Art” by Marc McKee:

Sing la la la. Sing huzzah,

huzzah, motherfucker:

The weather’s clotted with events

increasingly, the piano you carry

has a piano factory on top of it

and on top of that the city

futzing out in all directions

like a busted hydrant.


And how about this beauty! PANK’s print issues continue to be my favorite hunk to lug around, their gorgeous design, their assemblage of “the brightest and most promising writers for the most adventurous readers,” their fulfillment of the promise to provide “access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose,” as their mission statement says. And that’s another cooool thing about a magazine, this magazine at the tip-top: doing what they say. Lots promise to provide the best and to give voice to the up-and-comers and to do it different (and the best!) and whatever; PANK has never let me down with that promise. And like Artifice, this might be my favorite of the four issues I’ve read. You’ve got a wild sonnet by Sherman Alexie; you’ve got stories from Vouchers Christopher Newgent and Ashley C. Ford; you’ve got some beautiful poems from shining people like Russ Woods and M.G. Martin; you’ve got thumping stories from Ashley Farmer and Lindsay Hunter; you’ve got so much more people why haven’t you ordered it!?

Check out this beginning to Lindsay Hunter’s story “Candles” (or maybe it’s CANDLES):




Salt Hill 28

Two questions: How’d it take me 28 issues to get a hold of one of these beauties? Are they all this lovely or what?

I love how this magazine surprises me! I’m not always into literary surprises, but these are neat enough, subtle enough, for real enough, that I am joyed. I turn the cover and am hello-ed by strange choir-boy faces singing but maybe shouting in pencil drawings. Everywhere poems and stories that stretch that cord between thinking and feeling,  interviews that REALLY say something, images that startle me into a “hmmmmm.” I read through and the end is a Ben Mirov poem “Destruction Manual” aligned horizontally, destructing me, or maybe more appropriately the issue, out of this beauty of an artifact.

Here here here is the beginning to my favorite piece, “Because Thought Isn’t Prayer” by John Gallaher:

This is kind of a danceable tune. To turn ourselves

around and then think about it this other way. “I’m

unsure about it,” we can say, and kiss someone new

or kiss no one at all. Think about every dog

you’ve ever hand, or every cat you’ve ever had,

or every time you’ve ever played put-put golf. Is there

anyone left in America who hasn’t played put-put golf?

you can ask yourself. Are there no more reasons

to be thankful? you can say.

Exits Are at Artifice

27 Feb

It took no time at all to fall completely in love with this Exits Are project from Mike Meginnis, a series of collaborative stories written in the manner of old school text adventure/roleplaying/Choose Your Own Adventure stories, hosted online by Artifice Magazine. Basically, a match made in heaven.

Here’s the run down:

A text adventure is a game that takes place in prose. The computer describes a world to you one room at a time, writing in the second person. “You stand in the center of a cool, dark cave,” says the computer. “Exits are north, south, east, and west.” The computer waits for you to tell it what you want to do. “Go east,” you might say. Or if there is a key, you might say “take key.” The computer parses your commands as best it can and tells you what happens next. […]

I love text adventures, but they usually disappoint me. I wanted a way to make them more open-ended, less about puzzle-solving and more about language: its weirdness, its beauty. So I started playing a game with some of the writers I knew. Using gchat, I pretend to be a text adventure. The other writer is the player. We use the form of the text adventure to collaborate on some kind of strange, fun narrative. The only rule is that we take turns typing. We never discuss what we’re going to do in advance, so the results are improvisational and surprising/exciting/stressful/upsetting for both participants. Every time, the player does things I never could have seen coming.

So far stories by Matt Bell, Blake Butler, and Tim Dicks have been posted with an equally amazing troupe of writers on deck: Aubrey Hirsch, Brian Oliu, Nicolle Elizabeth, AD Jameson, Robert Kloss, &c.

This is something you want to follow.

Holiday Book Buying

4 Dec

I’m sitting here working on my list of books that I’d like to buy, be given, and/or give this holiday season. I’m becoming overwhelmed as I realize (again) that tricky situation: so many books, limited money. I thought I’d share a few books that I haven’t read but really really want (or want to give) that seem like great choices for holiday shopping this December.

1. The Oregon Trail Is The Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl (MudLuscious Press): Every book MLP puts out is that beautiful blur of story and sound. In his past work, Sherl is a fearless traveler of emotions, searching inside himself and carrying whatever he finds to his readers. Add in that obvious connection to the video game of my (our?) youth and this could be a good gift for any literary lover of our generation, despite it being a pre-order (better a little late than never!). Check out this excerpt from the book’s page:

In my dreams we always ford the river.
In the wagon I cover you with blankets
when you sleep. You often dream of ghosts
while I hunt bison wherever bison live.
The ghosts are vegetarian, your heart
is April wind, raindrops the size of half dollars.
We never hire the Indian guide. Instead,
we keep the five dollars, roll it up, hide
it in my wool sock. You look better in 3D.
I touch your breasts with my fingertips.
Then I touch your breasts with my whole
hand. I swallow the idea of independence,
finding the West before the dirt was soiled
by factories that build heat-seeking missiles,
amusement parks, & chain restaurants.
Chimney Rock is underwhelming. I spit
in the cracks of the rock, tiny crevices
that hide who the fuck knows. You are hot
shit & the other carpenters from Ohio
are jealous. They think about your hair
while they’re inside their wives, think about
your dimple while they try to repair the axle
on their wagon. True love is finding wild
fruit. We eat without bibs. By rivers I sleep
easy, knowing you’re cleaning the clothes nearby.

2. Issue 4 of Artifice Magazine: The next installment from our favorite super self-aware journal promises to be beautiful, both inside and out. It also will fit in a stocking. Most importantly, it features new work by wonderful writers like Ryan Ridge, Richard Chiem, and Caroline Crew that are sure to be mind-thumping.

3. So many things from Dzanc Books’ Holiday Sale: With sales like Buy One, Get One Free or free eBooks with every print book or sweet bundles, Dzanc continues to offer some of the best literary booyeah for your buck. Maybe you have a friend/relative that needs some good lit exposure; try some the 30 Under 30 Anthology edited by Lily Hoang and Blake Butler, featuring innovative fiction from the likes of Matt Bell, Evelyn Hampton, and Brian Oliu. Or maybe–like me (silly I know)— you still haven’t read Kyle Minor’s book, so ask for that. Or maybe one of those wild new releases has caught your eye, like Animal Sanctuary by Sarah Falkner:

Winner of the 7th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction

A wild and mysterious novel of multiple characters and episodes structured around the life and career of a fictional actress and animal rights activist, is the winner of the 7th Starcherone Fiction Prize. The manuscript was selected by novelist and short story writer Stacey Levine.

Animal Sanctuary is a challenging, readable, powerful, and mysterious novel. The story—not a single plot, but multiple, peripherally connected episodes and discourses – concerns an American actress, Kitty Dawson, who stars in two movies by a famous (and famously obscure) British director, Albert Wickwood, both having animal disaster themes. Kitty then goes on to make a great many other pictures with animal themes, and to found in the 1970s a sanctuary for big cats that rich people decide first to have as pets, then abandon. Later, Kitty’s only son, Rory, raised in the animal sanctuary and as a young teen the lover of a renowned Austrian big cat trainer, becomes an installation and performance artist whose work incorporates animals & animal themes, as well as attempts to critique and get outside of institutions.

4. Please Don’t Be Upset by Brandi Wells: Missed out on Tiny Hardcore Press’s sweet sales awhile back? That’s okay, you’re not alone. But, you can still snag Well’s sure-to-be-sweet book for a stellar $8.99. I’m always impressed by how Wells’ writing, and THP books in general, can be in-your-face without being obnoxious, intimate without being awkward, and 100% hard-hitting.


Artifice 4 Release Party Next Saturday, Nov 12th

2 Nov

For those in the Chicagoland area, you should be at this event. I (Christopher) will be there, though not in a Vouched capacity. Other capacities will be in full effect, I promise you.

All the info for the event is on that flyer; I refuse to be redundant. But, there’s a facebook event you should RSVP to. I hope to see you there!

Awful Interview: James Tadd Adcox

13 Jul

James Tadd Adcox is an authority figure. He once punched a t-rex in the jaw. He’s the editor n’ chief of ArtificeHe writes good words that  you can read all over the place, which is how you may have heard of him. On Sunday, July 24th he’ll be reading at this little shindig known as the VouchedATL launch reading.

This is my first ‘awful interview’, you should know that. So I’m going to pull out my ace in the hole first if that’s okay with you: If you were a candy bar, James Tadd Adcox, what kind of candy bar would you be, and why?

What’s that candy bar that Steve Almond is searching for in Candy Freak? The candy bar that he remembers from his childhood, that he had like once? That may or may not exist? A Maravell? Something like that? A ghost candy bar. A candy bar marked by its own absence.
That or whatever candy bar Ghostface would be most likely to promote.

I think it was a Caravelle that Steve Almond was looking for. You mean Ghostface from Scream, right? Not Ghostface Killah?

Hm. If it’s an option, I’d like to say that I mean both.

Would you ever consider ghostwriting Ghostface Killah’s autobiography? What if Ghostface Killah turned out to be Ghostface? That would be so meta.

For my birthday a couple years back a friend of mine gave me The World According to Pretty Tony, written by Ghostface Killah. I’ve read it a couple of times. It had some pretty good advice in it, about like how you need to eat properly if you’re going to keep hustling and also some things that you can eat that would enable you to keep hustling. It also pointed out at one point that cocaine will make you shit, which I didn’t realize. There was a CD that came with it that was basically just Ghostface Killah reading the book, which is pretty nice if you want to look at the pictures and have Ghostface read to you.

I didn’t realize he had written a book! That sounds absolutely lovely. What other kinds of books inspire you? Also, would you say his advice about cocaine directly influenced your work in any way?

He said some stuff about not effing up Mother Earth that I think I’m still working through, like conceptually speaking, I guess. As far as other books go, I’ve found that when I’m working on a project, I like to go to the Harold Washington Library, which is the big one downtown, and check out more nonfiction books about the subject I’m writing about than I could ever possibly read, at least before the due date, and just kind of gorge myself on them. I think of it as stuffing myself, overeating. I end up with all of these random scenes and bits of dialogue on the scraps of paper I’ve been using as bookmarks.
When I’m reading fiction I really like dead Russians and Germans and dead or dying Americans. In the last category I particularly like the postmodernists or experimentalists or whatever you want to call them from the sixties & seventies. I keep going back to Donald Barthelme. And then it took me a really long time to get around to reading David Foster Wallace, and I kind of thought that I was going to be “meh” when I did, but I ended up really loving him. The Incandeza filmography in Infinite Jest is one of the most fun things I’ve read in a while.

Would you like to say anything to people who think that our reading on the 24th may just be “meh”?

There’s that one .gif animation that was a meme for a while, of a little rolly cartoon guy striding down the street, exuding confidence in said stride, and the words “Haters gonna hate” in a little thought bubble coming out of his head. That. Not just the “haters gonna hate” part, the whole animated .gif. Like, if I could learn the underlying 0’s and 1’s that made that .gif up, and just spout them off at someone. That’s what I’d say.