Reading tonight from Birkensnake II in South Lake Union

Birkensnake abroad.

Birkensnake abroad.

I’m reading tonight with contributors to Birkensnake II. The reading is in Seattle at the Inner Chapters Bookstore in South Lake Union at 7:30 free of charge to the reading public, and presumably free to everyone else. The magazine is curiously to me heavy on the speculative side of speculative fiction. I’m kind of new to this genre and don’t’ really understand what it is, although it is clumped in with Science Fiction and Fantasy. But then writers as different as David Ohle (Motorman) or Alasdair Gray can be clumped into this genre.

I’m reading with Tina Connolly, Evelyn Hampton, and Caren Gussoff:

Tina Connolly wrote this as the first two sentences in Birkensnake I, the first issue: “This is the first stereoscope in the park. Seventy-two percent of unattended humans stop to view pictures in this stereoscope first.” You can read her entire story here.

magazine book blocks

text blocks printed via copy machine and finagling, time honored traditions of printers everywhere

Evelyn Hampton wrote this sentence among a collection she recently published, Not That Far: “It is good for the theater when you do not know you are in the theater. Same goes for the city. It is good for the city when you believe you are in a theater having a dream.” This seems sensible to me, and good advice. You can purchase your own copy of her book and read all of more of her sentences here.

Caren Gussoff wrote crazy, odd lit fiction in the time before Kelly Link was writing crazy, odd lit fiction. Maybe Kelly Link was already writing this stuff then, but I didn’t know it. But in Seattle in the mid-1990s there was sometimes Rebecca Brown, always Stacey Levine, and Caren Gussoff writing these types of stories. They said one thing and meant another thing and I could never figure, and I still can’t, figure out how these things were written. Caren Gussoff is reading tonight. She has a story a story about garbage collectors in the future when they are not allowed to the touch the trash. You can read her story here.

Brian Conn

Brian Conn

Brian Conn one of the editors, assemblers, and manufactures of the magazine sent me this note regarding some images he sent about the hand bound magazine.

The one of the Nepalese man comes from my friend Neeman, who was reading issue 1 while traveling in Nepal. It seems this man approached her and asked to be photographed with it. So not much story behind it, but it’s a great image nevertheless. The others are from binding issue II.

Sewing the mag

Sewing the mag

The main thing about making and binding these is that we do it … not for fun, exactly, but because in some way we want to — I mean our goal is not to make money or get famous or anything — and so the whole exercise is about working together in strange new ways. So Joanna and Chemlawn and I screen-printed the covers in a friend’s basement under intense time pressure (Chemlawn had to return to Alabama, I literally drove her from printing the last of the covers to the airport), and we printed the text blocks by finagling, cajoling, and outright stealing from various local institutions, and we borrowed a blowtorch from a friend and singed the covers on the street.

Joanna suffering acutely from the fumes, all kinds of people interacting with us in all kinds of ways, one guy talking to us for half an hour about his upcoming stand-up comedy debut), and then we invited many friends to a binding party (it turned out that someone else there had run into the would-be comedian on the street a few days after we did: he had blacked out during his act, was ruined), and then suddenly we needed six cans of fixative to seal over the fine acrylic ash that was an unexpected byproduct of the burning process, and so on. At no time did we have any idea what we were doing. So the product is irregular and a bit worrying, but that’s part of the whole thing: we like the most irregular ones best.

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