OPEN PEN

Issue Eighteen

a free short fiction magazine – home of open literature featuring

The Jungle by Josephine Bruni, Answering Zeus by William Kraemer, Way To Go Donald by N Quentin Woolf & London Short Story prize winner Oh No!, A Bank Robbery! Fuck! by Foye McCarthyDCb2tdCUIAQ7eFJ

I have a special dealer who keeps my Open Pen fix topped up. I’ll be waiting a while for Issue Nineteen but not too bothered as Issue Eighteen has been floating in my bag for those advantageous, peaceful moments to pause. Open Pen editor Sean Preston gives guest editorial duties to author of The Many, Wyl Menmuir. He starts off proceedings with much heart and passion on the political landscape that currently floods our psyches with that uneasy feeling and the distorted reflections one has been forced to endure of late. “We need fiction that reveals us deeper truths than those of which the news is capable” He sees the strength and conscious changing power of writing stories “Writing is about the closest thing we have to telepathy” There are plenty of stories around when we need to escape and even more to help us connect again in these complex times.  If I am looking for the latter, I know I can find it inside the the pages of Open Pen.

It took a park bench in the sun to hold me still enough to finally finish The Jungle by Josephine Bruni in one hit. Previous attempts where stifled by life’s regular interruptions, trying to find solitude at work, being distracted by a lit up android. My imagination well whetted – I think I read the intro six times – each page brought one deeper and deeper into the mind of Subhashini and her stoner enhanced neurosis and love of African Violets. So absorbed, she has become a creator, a little god in her world of black velvet, notched wavy flowers and purpley edges with “leaves perfectly heart shaped like a love song“. An offer of stronger genes in her family from Violets from outta space via an offer from an online chat room changes her world. Josephine writes with exquisite pace and empathy, that lets the reader enter her world of obsession and devotion.

William Kraemer has come up with a hoot of a fiction about a guy who makes up the titles of fake books for movie sets. These empty tomes are his triumph, a meditative fantasy world of amazing possibilities. Pensive Gout by Louis Cardel and A Thousand And One Inches Of Twine by Elissa Dal Santos a couple of favourites.

Way To Go Donald talks of the connection with the POTUS and potentially dying in a fairground accident. It is an uncanny metaphor, having myself escaped from a broken seat belt on the wild mouse unscathed, I get his drift. The only thing you can do is white knuckle it, and consider what might have happened later and how on earth it got clearance to be there in the first place. Part of the furniture at Open Pen, N Quentin Woolf’s pieces are always a mind blast.

Taking the finale of yet another wonderful issue is London Short Story Prize winner’s brilliantly funny Oh No! A Bank Robbery! Fuck! by Foye McCarthy. An Irish kid named Sean loves stories about people who shoot each other. The high expectations and literary selections of his mother are being quashed by the “pew, pew, pew, pew, tshhh” books he wants to write. This delves into another fantasy that gets caught up in a real life adventure, giving him the plot and ending he so desires, gaining answers of the warm and fuzzy variety. Much fun inside his fevered thought processes.

Look out for Issue Nineteen which should be out any tick and at a stockist near you (UK residents have the best chance) or subscribe via Open Pen

 

 

Open Pen Reviews

Joseph Ridgwell – Mexico

Ridgwell and Pig Ear Press join forces again and produce hand-stitched beauty.

Time to check in on authors who regularly get radared here at Urban F HQ. I’ve had this little burgundy book for a while now. After six weeks off work it’s amazing what you find in your notes and hidden journals around the place. A sketch of a volcano, lists of strange encounters, overheard conversations, personal dreams and a short paragraph on Joseph Ridgwell’s, Mexico.

Having been familiar with Ridgwell’s classic road novel Burrito Deluxe, also set within a Mexican backdrop, I couldn’t resist this little gem on offer from Pig Ear Press. A kind of mini Burrito… with less chili. Shaped like a British passport, its gold embossing tells of hearts belonging – at this particular moment – somewhere else, somewhere exotic, somewhere away from the fuzz. Back on the Beach Of The Dead, our favourite miscreant Ronnie is waxing astronomical with wads of philosophy between sips, snorts and swings. “It’s like everything’s dead, even the stars are stillborn“. Back on the prowl, the boys begin looking for more fun before Armageddon, in which, Ronnie & Joe experience some tender and unlawful moments.

Mexico is another taste of the writing style and stories you’ll get from a Ridgwell release. The difference between this and other snippets and short stories is the sexdefying splendor of the print job. All this artisan book binding, handmade paper, embossing and personal touches has this printer’s daughter weak at the knees. It ain’t long, but its quality counts for more. If you are a supporter of the small press revolution, then seek out similar gems from this publisher, if you are new to this rebel lit fiend caper, than this would be a great start to your collection and the many adventures of Joseph Ridgwell.

Book Review Joseph Ridgwell Reviews

Worse Things Happen At Sea

selected poems by Martin Appleby

There was a moment of disappointment when I missed the first run of Martin Appleby’s Worse Things Happen At Sea. An extra five poems in this special edition though has me feeling right chuffed and glad I got in on the second chance run instead. Martin has been slogging away with his lit zine Paper & Ink for many, many issues now. Ten if you’re counting. In fact, he has cemented himself well and truly inside the ‘lit zine trail blazer’ category. It is still lo-fi, full of real heart and unique edge skaters of the literary underground. It has been such a pleasure to get each issue all the way down here in Sydney, opening up the great curtain to new writers and friends all over the world.

Martin has a coy approach to selling himself, though proud and strong when championing all the new voices in Paper & Ink, but he shouldn’t be worried. This is fun, straightforward and passionate. A few of the poems here have snuck inside some P&I classics, so it is a treat to get this cache of thoughts in a well stapled bundle. Dedicated to all ex girlfriends, past and future, After You Left is a fitting start. Stale cigarette smoke and yearning. There is loads of chat on cider, his dreams, regrets, bands, his love of Bukowski, the perils of being a vegetarian via his classic poem Don’t You Miss Bacon and of course boxing.

There are hints of unresolved childhood melancholy but that only seems to have shaped the writer into the strong, resilient man he has become, that strength revealed in Everything. Martin is a rebel who quickly senses the rebellion in others, especially writers. Half way through you start to feel some of the accumulated years of experience shed and drop to the floor. Ten Years is a ripper of regrets he would never have missed. Martin’s humour is dry and honest and extra cute at times with gems like Poetry Is Hard With Kittens, Rejection, Shit Jokes and another fave I’ve spied before Dreams.

worse

There is the awkward beauty of Nights Like Those about ‘silent sex so that my parents didn’t hear‘ that just makes you smile and reminisce in the wake of similar scenarios. The title poem means a lot to Martin. You can tell, ’cause it’s permanently inked on his wrist, Self deprecating, a reminder, its meaning he will never outgrow. There’s been plenty of rumbles like Why Is Your Moustache Shorter Than The Rest Of Your Beard, another story in his ‘war against myself‘. The one poem that truly reaches me and makes me so happy to have had Martin cross my path is the wonderful The Only Religion I Need. “I have danced on sticky floors, in shitty pubs with bands playing solely for me” mate, we pray at the same altar.

Worse Things Happen At Sea is available here. Check out the back catalogue of fine releases while you are browsing the shelves. Look out for calls for words for the next Paper & Ink Zine release, one that will surely be up many of your dingy back alleys, PUNK! Get scribbling. Submissions here.

Martin Appleby Paper And Ink Zine Poetry Reviews Zines & Journals