Usually I approach journals by letting the pages fall open, meandering to whatever tugs and pulls. After devouring Ilura Press’s Etchings 7: Chameleons this way, I set out to experience Etchings 8: Dusk Till Dawn in its entirety and in order, like listening to new LP. No skipping to the singles, but absorbing the shape, the flavour, letting the theme emerge—even if I had the urge to skip a track or two.
First I took in the equivalent of the album artwork: the journal’s overall look and feel. I was drawn to its size and shape, the appropriately varied type face, which accentuates without jarring. I was left thinking, I’d like my work to appear in something this sexy.
Next, the small print: who featured, and where are they from, are there any hidden tracks, emergers, nobodies like me, alongside seasoned writers, offering something edgy, raw even, a thing I savoured in Etchings 7? Dusk Till Dawn offered a surprising number of international contributors and a notable scarcity of unknowns.
Then the composition—was there a good balance of fiction, poetry, artwork and essays? Predominantly traditional fiction and poetry, interspersed with artwork and essays. Only a few experimental pieces made the cut, including Christopher Linforth’s essay (really a list): ‘Stalking Woody Allen: Your Guide in 54 Parts’ and Warwick Sprawson’s satirical and bitter insight into the rivalry between emerging writers, ‘_iH_ttocS_’ a piece layered with kooky formatting and typeface (check out p.133 – I nearly missed the bold letters A – R – S – E – H – O – L – E embedded across the page).
As to the theme, there was a refreshing scarcity of vampires and creatures of the night, but the selected pieces didn’t seem altogether cohesive—more like a best-of compilation than an album.
The tracks I would come back to:
- Ben Goldsworthy’s peculiar narrative confession of unreliability and dishonesty, ‘Movements and Calculations’;
- A.S. Patric’s ‘The Wife’ whose narrator has no identity and possibly no reality: ‘Was he mad before, or is he mad now? The thing is to go along with whatever the reality is. He has to work out what that is, and then stick to it.’ (p. 154);
- William McCormick’s darkly haunting artwork, ‘Masks’;
- Kate Murfett’s tantalising poem, ‘The Red Queen’;
- Poet Benjamin Dodd’s slightly paranoid, ‘Remnant;’
- Maria Pavlova’s sensual ‘The Touch’, translated from the Bulgarian, which captures the consuming intensity of love, lust and loss;
- Anthony Kane Evans’ murder mystery ‘The Problem With Castles’;
- Scathing rants like the aforementioned ‘_iH_ttocS_’ by Warwick Sprawson: ‘You use words like pellucid and roil and exculpate without the faintest awkwardness that comes from a lexicon source book… Your level of control throttles the life out of words, leaving pages littered with lines like mangled ants.’ (p. 132)
- The cruel variation in interpretation and intention between a husband and wife, in Ashley Cowger’s ‘Interpretations of Aurora’;
- Alysse Near’s ‘caustic’ (p. 188) ‘Venus in the Twelve House’;
- An unfortunate misconception of beliefs and human responses in Georgina Luck’s ‘The Butterfly Shawl’; and
- An exploration of genocide in Rwanda in Ryan O’Neill’s, ‘The Cockroach’.
Dusk Till Dawn offered variety in length, flavour and colour, a definite must-read, if not quite as can’t-put-down as its predecessor.
Copies of Etchings 8: Dusk Till Dawn and its predecessors are available online from http://www.ilurapress.com, plus check out the ‘Submissions’ page for details on submitting to the upcoming issue, Etchings 10: The Feminine – La Femme.
Christine Priestly is currently studying for her Master of Arts in Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She writes fiction and creative non-fiction and knows you can never own too many pairs of stilettos or love enough cats.