Words By Dani Hedlund
You—clever, intrepid reader—are on the hunt for great new stories. Strolling through your local bookstore, your eyes skim the many titles…and then you stop. A cover intrigues you. Upon a shimmering turquoise background, a tangle of embossed arms reaches out, each hand beckoning you to grab hold.
• To run in fear, close this book.
• To pick up the book and explore, read on.
Picking up the book, you study the names on the cover. Oh man, you think. Jeff VanderMeer! Flipping the book over, you read that this issue includes a sneak-peek at Jeff’s new novella-in-progress. He’s even sharing notes on his writing process and mapping out his career as a whole.
Your eyes fall to the other names: poet and author extraordinaires, tantalizingly united under the theme of “obsession.”
And who’s Kirsty Logan? If you’re standing in an American bookstore, you might not know that she’s a rising star in Scottish literature . . . but you do now, and you realize this weird book isn’t just championing the best voices in the US. It’s reaching into other countries, other cultures, and actively striving to bring you the best voices from around the world.
• To eschew different and “foreign” ideas, close this book.
• To bravely open yourself up to international voices, read on.
Enchanted by the promise of new voices, you take the plunge and crack open the spine. Color! Art! Oh goodness, there are custom illustrations for every single story and poem! Flipping through the pages, you find literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, fantasy, and even some speculative tales.
You spot five poems from Lambda Literary, championing LGBT voices. And then, a feature from a debut novelist, including an interview and the first two chapters of his upcoming post-apocalyptic adventure! Then, holy cow, there’s even a 32-page graphic short story—and it’s scary as hell.
Flipping through, you spot a short memoir workshopped in something called the “Free Editing Program,” and you start to realize this journal is converging more than genre. Here, established and first-time writers are published side by side.
• To feel completely overwhelmed (in a bad way), close this book and find something more familiar, like that plain-looking literary journal next to this one, full of comfortable literary works about dinner parties and angsty love affairs.
• To feel completely overwhelmed (in a good way), read on.
Reading on, you flip to the last piece, where you find a choose-your-own-adventure style story. But this isn’t the frivolous journey you remember from your youth. No, the author is using this experimental form to tell a dark and deeply candid tale of a woman’s romantic obsession.
Now you understand what inspired the editor of this weird book to write such a weird editor’s note, and you have to make a choice.
• To disapprove strongly of this journal, close this book.
• To embrace its mission to #PublishWeird, read on—and know that we are so grateful that you took a chance on these stories, these poems, and these gorgeous pieces of art. None of this is possible, dear reader, without amazing people like you. Thank you.