The Weekender 3-Pack
240 pages / $22.00 buy from TheNewerYork
1. There is a market (and when I say this I mean like, a common, growing… need, among readers) for very brief literature. This is not news for the twitter generation, the HTMLGIANT community, or internet writers. But, it bears repeating. We need things smaller.
2. As much as we need things short, we also need them to be deep. No!–we need some of it deep. We also need some of it funny and purejoy. We need some of it confusing. We need unsettling. We need beautiful, and we need deep.
3. TheNewerYork pours these parts (mostly equally) into the 70-some pages of each of their three journals (Book 0, Book 2, and Book 3–Book 4 is forthcoming this year). It’s this wildly interesting, thoughtful, colorful, ugly, pretty, stupid, weird. It’s equal parts smile-inducing and vomit-inducing. And no single piece of experimental fiction in these collections goes over two pages in length.
4. When it comes to literature, TNY is like those bags full of halloween-sized candies. You want two or three at a time, you reach in, and take what you get. Some skittles, some m&ms, some fucking Almond Joy (ugh!), and every once and awhile a severed finger, a used condom, a sticky note with the answer to life written on it.
5. Aside from length and diversity, these pieces share at their fundamental bottom new forms of storytelling. David Foster Wallace solidified for us how fragmented culture/life/reality/consciousness is thanks to…well everything that constitutes society and its structures. Now our writers are taking up these little fragments and painting pictures of them, one at a time. Or, they are picking up a fragment (picture a shard of glass AS A SYMBOL for some little fragment or waste of society) and painting not it, but with it. With the colors the fragment contains. These pieces of literature are some of them the canvas and some of them the tool, the brush, the color, the pen.
6. Okay enough bullshit. These issues are fantastic. They entertain me very much. They make it fun to read.
7. These are perfect for reading on a lunch break, or during a 15 minute break in the middle morning or late afternoon. Like, I have trouble bringing novels with me places and really getting into them during short, unpredictable moments throughout the day. Like, for me, the novel I read in bed each night is not something I’m taking with me in the bathroom, or to work, or on the train. I have found that these short pieces are so concisely packed with thought and contemporaryness (?) that they’re as entertaining, emotional, and thought-provoking as anything I could be doing with a spare 6 minutes. That’s right, I said it. Thought-provoking.
8. With that said, I did read all of issue 2 (in 3 chunks) while in the passenger seat of my girlfriend’s car on a 5 hour drive home after Christmas.
9. And, it’s the only ‘book’ I’ve been able to read in a car, without puking or even wanting to.
10. And, I’ve picked up that same issue six times since Christmas, flipping open to a random spot and reliving some freaky or funny tale which, as I re-read, I can feel becoming as real an artistic comfort to me as a Books album, or Season 9 of Seinfeld.
11. The best parts of these issues may be the letters from the editor, Joshua S. Rabb, to his readership. These can be found at the end of the book. They are completely insightful. These end-of-book meditations spread some thick, attractive glaze over the works that precede them. (Part of the reason I’ve been rereading them so frequently)
12. THEIR NAME IS A JOKE ON THE other LITERARY MAGAZINE. (I actually got a subscription to that magazine for Christmas this year. Thanks Mom! And I honestly really enjoy it, too, but in a different way ((omg should I review the new yorker….?)).
13. The editors at TNY don’t publish poetry. I’m not sure if they don’t believe in it? Or if they just think everything is really a story, not a poem? I’m not sure what their take is… but everything they publish, in print and online, is experimental short fiction or visual art. Not sure yet where I stand on this… but I think I might argue that some of the stuff in here is or maybe was a poem before editing. But idk. I’m sure it’s not that important anyway.
***14-25 will be some highlights from issues 0-3***
14. There’s a story that’s a list of rejected baby name submissions and the reasons for their rejection. Book 3: Rejected Submissions to “the Complete Baby Name Wizard” by Jeremy Blachman.
15. There’s a story about kids who make up a list of “new monsters” during a birthday party. It’s hilarious and really fucking cool.
Book 3: “Unheralded Monsters” by Gideon Nachman.
16. All of the Art. I didn’t mention this but pieces of visual art commonly accompany most pieces. The art is very carefully selected and usually complements the fiction as well as the fiction complements it. Often times the fiction IS art, and vice versa. Much of the art is collage. Much of TNY ‘in general’ is a collage.
17. A candid but hauntingly familiar monologue of a middle class man dealing with his boring life.
Book 2: “21st Century Interlude of Daniel Lustigman” by Justin Rossier.
18. A letter to a cervix from the rest of the person that that cervix is a part of.
Book 2: “A Letter” by Aimee Herman
19. A jokey letter to a landlord asking about the appropriate items to place in their garbage disposal.
Book 2: “An Inquiry” by James Espinoza and Ty Fitzpatrick.
20. A series of 3 playbills describing absurd and Tom Green-esque staged sequences.
Book 2: “Untitled” by Steve Shilstone
21. A letter about the sun and brown-eyed susans.
Book 0: “A Letter” by Bianca Stewart
22. Book 0: “First Lines of Books That Don’t Exist” by Soren Stockman is funny and lovingly topical.
(A note about using the word “Topical” to describe these books. I would do it. Like, one could feel as though topicality, or with-it-ness, in subject matter is kind of hokey or cheap. I agree it can be. But here it is seems to be used, 90% of the time, in very genuine ways. Topicality could be said to be a main goal of these books. They need to look/sound/read/feel current and very much now, made by people writing and reading and participating in culture now.)
23. The Glossary entries (All books). These are interspersed throughout the issues as one-liner definitions of familiar words. The authorship is varied, collaborative, and anonymous. This is cool. You can submit your own glossary entries on their website.
The Mottos (located on the back of each book), which are also made into posters.
25. How Small They Are. Did I mention one of these books can fit pretty realistically in your back pocket?