Where to get it: Opium 8
Why it’s good: Joy is no longer just a dish soap, it’s a tangible thing that can be found within the pages of Opium 8. The cover alone is so conceptually badass that editors all over the world will be sitting in their shower, curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth muttering: “Why didn’t I think of something that cool?” Your Main Readerman is no exception.
Editorial things to note: When putting together an issue you want something for everyone; yet you’d also like some kind of kinetic energy to run throughout the book, some unifying themes…you know? It’s no easy trick. I think what’s special about Opium 8 is how well the issue effortlessly flows from one section to the next. You’ll often be surprised by what you find, and seduced by content at a glance. I was moving on to a short-story when I caught a peek at Zach Wentz’s The Cannibal and then shifted gears. Poetry was the order of the day. Dude, the issue really ties the room together.
Bonus points Awarded to the editor’s notes: They give the book a voice and connectivity that reminded me of those Stan Lee Bullpen Bulletins in Marvel comics. Excelsior!
Quick nods: The comics are well drawn, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Top-shelf stuff. Since the winners of the 500 word memoir contest haven’t been announced, I’m going to keep mum, though they might be my favorite part of the issue. Also, I know something you don’t know. So, there.
Type of read: Expansive, infinite really.
Pairs nicely with: Thai food and a raw egg.
“Big World” by Mary Miller
Where to get it: Opium 8, her short story collection Big World
Why it’s good: I was nodding my head in agreement as I read this story. Onlookers thought that I was rocking out, which I was, sans music.
Writerly things to note: As found on page 90 of Opium 8: “Easy Reading is Damn Hard Writing.” Mary Miller does all the hard work for us and leaves us with clear-clean prose. Big World is quickly consumed, but it’ll take weeks to digest.
Type of Read: I’m a huge fan of this kind of first person perspective. It’s personal, confessional, and matter a fact. The narration comes from that place just beneath the fur, as Bukowski would say. The relationship between the two sisters is particularly appealing, so effortless, so troubled. And the story has this lovely darkness to it, and funny too; the best of both really.
Is there any proof in the text that Mary Miller has access to your brain? Much, particularly the line “I don’t know what I would do if I quit drinking. I’d have all this time on my hands.”
Did that sex scene make you feel funny in your pants? Me? No. But you’ll probably wank to it, perv.
Legend Has It by William Grialdi
Where to get it: Opium 8
Why it’s good: Hilarious without being jokey. Charles Nesbit is a fantastically idiosyncratic narrator. There’s a sense of manic adventure and excitement throughout the story, one of those tales that makes you want to read faster.
Writerly type of things to note: This story is a great example of how to get the most out of your supporting characters. Nesbit’s perspective reigns supreme in this story, but Sandy and Casey Gonzales are the ones who really bring his character to light. The way the three of them bounce off each other will make you squeal with glee.
Any Springsteen Reference in this story? Excellent question, yes, there’s one. This is second story to be featured in Your Main Readerman to note Springsteen in the text (see YMR #3). Oh, Sandy. Whooooa, whoa, whoa, oooh oh.
Type of read: Fast and fun, but wait, there’s more. It’s easy to quickly get comfortable with this story. The tone and perspective are recognizable. But don’t try to put this story in a box. Why? Because it will break out of that box and then you’ll have nothing but a broken box that you can’t use anymore. There is this paragraph towards the end of the story; the writing is so lovely, so seductive. We find Nesbit is taken off guard and everything in the story changes, you’ll read it twice.
The Peacock by Shya Scanlon
Where to get it: Opium 8 (I’m a slave to boiler plate)
Why it’s good: The Peacock is one of those stories that you read and then you say to yourself: “That was really good. I think I’ll read more short stories by this author, and maybe become a short-story writer too. Hopefully someday I’ll write something almost as good as The Peacock by Shya Scanlon.” Even though your story won’t be as good as this one, it will still be a fun and worthwhile journey.
Type of read: Lush, thoughtful, and epic in its moods.
Main Readerman, what’s your favorite part? Well, so many to choose from, but since you’re forcing me at gunpoint….I’ll refer to this line: “…and the girl in the window was now standing beside an older woman, presumably her mother, who looked alarmed. Doug waved. He couldn’t really blame her. There was a man dressed in a tuxedo standing in her yard, trying to coax a peacock into the back of a U-Haul truck.”
Paired best with : A rum and coke, maybe play some Queen while you enjoy.
About the author:
Timmy Waldron is the author of World Takes (Word Riot Press, May 2009)