Review: [untitled] – Issue Two

When I ran out of fresh literary journals to munch on, A.S. Patric was kind enough to give me a review copy of [untitled]’s second issue. [untitled] is a new Melbourne literary journal headed by Blaise van Hecke and Les Zigomanis from Busybird Publishing & Design.

Issue Two and Issue One getting cosy

The cover is stylistically similar to the previous issue’s, again using work from Busybird’s inhouse illustrator, Kev Howlett. The cartoon figure reminds me of Principal Skinner for some reason, and I think this has coloured my expectations of the stories inside. For instance, I couldn’t switch into a serious enough mood to take in Bella Ellwood-Clayton’s earnestly penned relationship-dance, especially after reading the journal’s tongue-in-cheek editorial. And again, Camilla Nurka’s delicate rendering of white man’s guilt and Indigenous Dreaming in ‘The Beach House’ felt more Etchings than [untitled]. I would have preferred more light, humour, and suspense, and a little less shade.

Thankfully, the second half of the issue felt more [untitled] and less [insert random literary magazine here]. The stories did manage to ‘take you away in the reading, …engross you, maybe even make you forget the world around you…’ They had ‘no pretensions’ and were ‘not on a mission to enrich the literary community’; instead, Therese Mobayad’s ‘Blonde Appetit’ made me laugh, van Hecke’s ‘An Unfortunate Series of Redheads’ and Hilaire’s ‘Out of Kilter’ kept me entertained, while Lee D Gordon’s ‘Coffins’ punched in the gut.

So what’s my verdict on [untitled], the Second? A mixed bag of short stories and poetry that might read better out of order. There are some great pieces that don’t belong in this publication, and some great pieces that definitely do. This is something that will undoubtedly be rectified in future issues once the editors and contributors finish nutting out a distinct voice for the journal.

[untitled] is available at selected bookstores (Readings!) and on their website. For those who want sneak peek, Violet Kieu has posted her story ‘Chardonnay’ online.


Support your literary journal, damnit!

[Untitled], Melbourne’s newest literary magazine, got launched today and I am currently eying off my copy of the petite first issue. Eighteen centimetres high, eleven centimetres wide, and of slim bearing, she’s a cutie. You should totally take her out on a date.

Or at least that’s what Kalinda Ashton’s touting. In her speech, Kalinda praised the quality of the stories in [Untitled] and she likened the small literary journal to a writerly stepping stone. There’s a lot of good stuff getting written but not necessarily getting published by older journals; Overland, for instance, might only publish five out of a hundred unsolicited stories. Small literary journals offer space for the rest, giving emerging writers a chance to develop their craft.  Their existence, however, does depend on subscriptions. So support your small literary journal. Splurge a little. Literary journals love guys and dolls with cash. To find out how you can purchase [Untitled], speak to Blaise at Busybird Publishing & Design.

Following Kalinda’s speech were readings from various contributors. I particularly liked Stu Hatton’s ‘hands/office’, his deadpan delivery matched the tone of his poem perfectly. Afterwards, I got to chat with some of the other contributors: Elizabeth Jane (librarian), George Ivanoff (YA novelist), Claire Varley (Melbourne Uni Arts graduate), and Sophie Moon (fellow blogger). Hopefully I’ll be seeing them around at other stuff. The Lifted Brow perchance? Who knows? 😉

[Untitled] Magazine launch

My short story ‘Dermatology’ will be appearing in the inaugural issue of [Untitled] (ed. Les Zigomanis). Detailing the humiliation of a boy with severe acne, ‘Dermatology’ is an exception to the usual stuff that I get published. It is not ethnic lit, and it is over 700 words, so I’m excited to see it in print. Here’s an excerpt for all you peeps who are excited with me:

The tablets didn’t give him indigestion, but they made his face worse. At the station, he’d keep his head bowed and his eyes on the yellow line whenever the girls from MLC walked past. He could still see their legs though. He saw a lot of leg: the girls always wore their skirts above the knees with their socks pushed down to their ankles. If he was lucky, one of them would whip out some concoction smelling of passionfruit or mango, and swirl it over their calves. My skin’s way dry! they’d exclaim. Look. He never did though. He’d move further down the platform. He didn’t want the girls to point at the craters scattered across his cheeks.

The acne was on his back too. He didn’t mind that so much. The only time he took off his shirt was in the guys’ change rooms, and the guys rarely treated him with the same sneering scrutiny. Nobody commented on his face, not when he could catch a ball and hit a six.

But he wanted to get better, and the GP did say that it would take at least a month before he’d see improvement, so he went back to the pharmacy to get his next lot of tablets. Richard Gere in his crisp white coat was once more on duty. Instead of rehashing warnings on sun exposure, he praised the virtues of benzyl peroxide, speaking from experience. Michael searched his face for signs of scarring and found none. His basket of medication was pushed to one side. The pregnant woman next in line took Richard Gere’s words as a cue to start complaining about her constipation.

This Thursday, [Untitled] is getting launched by Kalinda Ashton, author of The Danger Game, so come along and grab a copy for $12. If acne boys don’t rock your world, there’s a sweet selection of short stories from Sophie Moon, Myron Lysenko, Tess Evans, Ryan O’Neill, Stu Hatton (who’s also performing on the night), George Ivanoff, Lena Pasqua, Mal McClenaghan, Elizabeth Jane, Melissa Ferguson, Laura Bovey, Amy Jackson, and Claire Varley. Whoop. Launch details are as follows:

[Untitled] Launch

Thursday 10 September 2009
Watsonia Library
4/6 Ibbottson Street
Watsonia (Melways ref: 20E4)
6.30 – 8.30 pm
Gold coin donation for wine & nibbles would be appreciated


Image courtesy of [Untitled].

Image courtesy of Untitled.