Review: Verandah 24

It’s weird reading the subsequent issue of something you’ve been published in.Your issue was a darling, perfect child: you loved its aesthetic, the words that were yours, the words that weren’t yours…And then, a year later, you are sitting at your desk, looking down at this upstart publication that has nudged your pet issue off Readings’ shelves, and you’re feeling disgruntled. Verandah 24, eh? What’s with the squarish pages? The pixelated cover?

Okay, so I am a little bit biased. Verandah 23 was my first reading. It’s special. But Verandah 24 is still a decent publication. Opening with a story rife with sexual confusion and teen-angst, it showcases poetry, literary and genre fiction, and art. Like most anthologies, some of the work wasn’t to my taste, but I did like Deb Wain’s ‘Morning Stranger’ and Adam Tucker’s ‘The Boy, His Mother, the Father, and a Dog’. Both stories were suggestive, alluding to backstage events: the disappearance of a girl, the death of a dog. I also enjoyed the lean feel of ‘First Date’ by Jacinta Butterworth, the exaggerated ‘bureaucration’  of ‘In Paper Hallways’ by Rhett Davis, and the Rhys Tate’s compact yet fleshed out ‘Something We Have Lost’. Slotted in between the stories are poems and artwork: my favourite was Erica Hurrell’s photo with its cheeky title and vibrant colours.

Apart from an interview with Tom Cho and a microscopic interview with Ross Hunter (why interview only one prize-winning contributor?) Verandah 24 stays clear of non-fiction. Like the artwork and poetry, the interviews helped break up the fiction monopoly but I would have liked to see an opinion piece or maybe a script thrown into the mix. It’s a bit much to ask, since the journal is entirely made up of unsolicited submissions, but something that future contributors might consider taking advantage of.

Verandah 24 is available at Readings and DUSA bookshops or can be purchased from its website.


Out of order

Out of order by mod as hell

'Out of order' by mod as hell

As mentioned in my previous post, I like to read literary anthologies and journals out of order. With Robert Drewe’s The Best Australian Stories 2007, I started at the back of the book and worked my way to the front. With Stop Drop and Roll, I read the fiction first and followed up with non-fiction and poetry. Sometimes I read the stories with the most interesting titles or those written by familiar writers, and I wonder if reading out of sync matters?

I usually stick to chronological order when reading single-author collections, such as Nam Le’s The Boat or Tom Cho’s Look Who’s Morphing, and when I do, I notice an overall argument or arc. For instance, with The Boat, Nam Le begins with ethnic writer clichés, then follows up with a challengingly diverse range of fiction, proving his right to claiming the Vietnamese boat story. So, if an overall argument or arc applies with single-author collections, do they also apply to literary journals and anthologies? Does reading out of sync matter?

Naturally reading is a linear experience. What I read today will influence how I read tomorrow. But do editors lose sleep over a collection’s order?

Yes and no. At Verandah 23’s launch, I remember directing such questions to some of the editorial committee, and they told me that they’d thought over the ordering of the pieces. Start light, go serious in the middle, and end with a bang. Or something like that.

Sabina Hopfer from Etchings orders pieces with a different purpose in mind. Her journal follows a restrictive format of text broken up by several blocks of artwork and she must arrange the text in such a way as to avoid wasting pages. The overall arc of each issue is completely serendipitous.

Whatever the case may be, most journals try to begin and end with strong, memorable pieces. So should I change my habits to include reading the first piece first and the last piece last, choosing my own adventure in between? I dunno. What are other people’s thoughts on the matter?


The deadlines for the following journals are coming up soon:

1) Stop Drop and Roll (31 May 2009): Stop Drop and Roll is a brand spanking new Melbourne journal run by Sean Wilson (of Cottonmouth-ness) and Liz Seymour. It’s a very slim journal where non-fiction (commentary, profiles, reviews) are allocated the same or more amount of pages as fiction and poetry. It’s also beautifully designed; it even has embossing (who has that kind of money?)

2) Going Down Swinging (31 May 2009): Going Down Swinging has been around since Kevin Brophy.

3) Verandah 24 (1 June 2009): Verandah has also been around probably for as long as Kevin Brophy. Put together by a different set of Deakin University writing students each year, it’s hard to predict what kind of stuff we’ll get each issue. I suppose you could stalk them on Facebook to find out.

4) Offset (12 June 2009): Offset is Victoria University’s literary journal.

5) Page Seventeen (30 June 2009): According to SnUfft (7 April 2009), this year’s Page Seventeen has a ‘great line-up for the editorial committee’.

So what are you waiting for? SUBMIT.

Collecting rejection letters is fun! If you’re not in it for the rejection letters, then why are you a writer?

‘Watching home videos’ reading

Verandah 23 Launch. My first reading ever:

'Watching home videos' reading 1

Very intimidating, especially when one is the follow-up act to Josephine Rowe. Thanks to Tom Cho, self-styled Verandah Fan Club President, for giving ‘Watching home videos’ the thumbs up in his launch speech. 

Photos courtesy of S. Yong

Verandah 23 launch

Verandah 23 is publishing my creative non-fiction piece ‘Watching home videos’. Yay. To get a copy, visit Readings, Books4u, or pick one up at the 2008 Melbourne Writers Festival Verandah 23 launch. Details are as follows:

Time: 4pm – 5pm

Day: Sat, 30 August 2008

Venue: Festival Club, ACMI Function Space, Federation Square