You Should Buy J&L Illustrated #3
There are too many literary magazines in the world. “Hey, we should start a lit mag?” is one of the most common things people say in the just-fucking-around phase of life, right up there with “Hey, we should start a band?” and “Hey why don’t we just start selling weed?” I suppose it’s better to have too many magazines than not enough—still, it’s a drag when you see the piles of journals in a bookstore (most bookstores sell lit mags, often in some out-of-the-way corner) and have no idea which, if any, you should buy. It’s a drag too when people send their zine-looking publications to us at VICE and they aren’t any good and we cringe. “ANOTHER one of these fucking things?” we ask, tossing them in the corner that is also the final resting place for most of the crappy CDs we get sent.
J&L Illustrated #3 is not like those sad magazines that end up in the round file. It’s edited by VICE contributor Paul Maliszewski and published by J&L Books, a small press run by Leanne Sharpton photographer and VICE contributor Jason Fulford. Since people we like already are involved with it (it also contains a story by Amie Barrodale), we’re predisposed to enjoy it, but it’s pretty fucking excellent even if you don’t care about any of those people.
The magazine’s presentation is terrific—the 13 stories are broken up by dreamlike, subterranean-looking illustrations by Shoboshobo, who also did the front and back covers, and this gives the journal a unified feel. The illustrations are striking enough that they’ll make you stop when you’re flipping through the pages, and they act as breaths between the stories.
The stories themselves are varied enough that describing them as a whole is tricky. They’re all “literary short fiction,” I guess, since they don’t fit into any other genres. They’re also generally slow-moving in a kind of rhythmic way—that is, there are few flurries of action, no heart-pounding sudden twists. They’re confident, unhurried stories. Mature, I guess you could call them. My favorite stories in here include one by Steve Featherstone about a struggling young family and one by Michael Martone about the Amish in space. That latter one is called “Amish in Space.” Don’t overthink your titles, guys.
You can buy J&L Illustrated #3 here, and you should if you like short fiction, have some spare money, and want to support a great small press put more stuff like this out.
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