Cover to Cover: The Coffin Factory
The Coffin Factory is a magazine. I mean: you will read it and say “that was a MAGAZINE” and also you can fold it in half and not damage it. They are having a contest. I read most of the third issue on a bus, the rest on a porch. I read the whole thing then carried it around in my book bag or backpack, wanting to write about the issue but not doing so and instead opening the issue to take notes and simply enjoying the contents again and then sometimes researching the authors therein. I have read every issue (all 3) of The Coffin Factory to date.
The back cover features a photograph by Nick Brandt entitled Elephant with Exploding Dust, Amboseli. If you’ve never seen any of Brandt’s African photos or an elephant involved with exploding dust, well.
The issue closes with an interview of Judith Gurewich, the publisher of Other Press. I’ll just excerpt some of the many no-bullshit nuggets from the exchange. Gurewich is also a Lacanian analyst.
The Coffin Factory: Do you think readers have a sense of Other Press as a recognizable brand?
Judith Gurewich: No, I don’t. I don’t think so. Consumers don’t buy books that way.
Three pages in the New York Review of Books, a page in the New York Times, and the New Yorker, Zadie Smith giving it a rave review: 2,000 copies! Can you believe that?
Publishing books according to ‘markets,’ or rather books that only have value within a particular ‘market’: mass market, commercial, literary fiction, literary-commercial, commercial-literary. What the hell are you talking about, if you reduce everything you publish to those terms?
The penultimate piece (aside from another awesome elephant) is a fiction from Andrés Neuman called “Mother Backwards,” translated from the Spanish by Richard Gwyn. This is a good story despite taking place in a hospital. I particularly enjoyed its treatment of space, as when the narrator’s mother is “admitted to hospital” or “admitted into some zone of herself.” And later: “We entered the hospital, we never stopped coming in, that threshold was a country, a border within another border, and we kept entering the hospital, and someone tossed a coin and the coin fell.”
A poem precedes: an excerpt from Notes on the Inconsolable by Justin Taylor, a project “which is an erasure of W.G. Sebald’s novel The Emigrants.” The poem is interspersed with photographs by Bill Hayward, à la Sebald’s inclusion of images in his own work, though I should say the combination of image and text moves far beyond homage to Sebald and into new aesthetic territory. An excerpt of an excerpt of an erasure:
“shifting images accordion style”
“light studded with wind”
“between his legs, the muzzle”
Ali Hosseini’s “A Day of Solitude” reminded me of some sort of “Hills Like White Elephants” for the Information Age, whatever that means.
TO BE CONTINUED