Journal Review: Anobium 1
Origin of Species
Susan Yount’s “Hyperbolic Umbilic Catastrophe” and “Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking” present narratives as theorems. Meanwhile, Stephanie Plenner’s “Instructionals” provides advice for literally burning bridges, cutting ties, and other idioms. Plenner’s piece provides a smart, linguistic look at everyday human experiences through an intentionally flat affect. It seeks to be staunchly rigid and serious as it deconstructs these idioms, and it does so in such a way that you can’t help but laugh (in a good way) and introspect. Such experimental pieces abound inAnobium.
A series of pieces from Jonathan Greenhause hint at the contents of Sebastian’s Relativity, the first chapbook by Anobium Books, released this past November. In these excerpts, Sebastian is tied to a restraint table by chimpanzee surgeons, watches visible syllables land in heaps on the subway floor, and more. The magic realism of the pieces is intriguing, and each page-long entry has a distinct, microcosmic story arc. Without having read Sebastian’s Relativity yet, I wonder if Greenhause successfully pulls these micro-fictions into a larger arc—as stand-alone pieces, these work marvelously, but even collections of stand-alone masterpieces need to have a sense of continual movement through the pages. I will say this: the teasers in Anobium Vol. 1 are enough to make me want to find out.
Anobium Vol. 1 is full of similarly dissimilar stories and poems, born from a contemporary, gritty version of The Twilight Zone on steroids with a Mensa IQ. Many pieces are remarkable in their uniqueness, yet they coalesce nicely as a collection. Concerning the aforementioned need for a “larger arc,” Anobium has it in spades. The selections and arrangements move through Anobium seamlessly, creating an even tenor to Benjamin Van Loon’s madhouse of literature.
With Family, Genetically Abnormal Deviant
However, the Managing Editor (and his Associate Editor cronies) can’t take all the credit. A big part of what brings these different threads together is the volume’s artwork, designed by Benjamin Van Loon’s brother, Jacob Van Loon. Think Coen brothers meet [insert more obscure brother duo here].
Anobium’s artwork isn’t just random flare pinned to the pages; it’s part of the main show. Though Anobium bills itself as primarily a literature rag, it is fundamentally both a lit and art journal. Each page of Anobium fits seamlessly together. Big blocks of irreverent text sections off various elements of the issue, while black and white illustrations pop from the inner folds. Anobium achieves an aesthetic more refined in its B&W pages than I’ve seen in some full-color journals.
And the Brooding Offspring
Anobium achieves excellence in its inaugural issue. The literature is witty, and a large chunk of the writing pairs this with humor. The artwork blends well and works as an actual, integrated part of the volume, rather than a tacked on extra. Essentially, it’s damn good. Copies of Anobium Vol. 1 and Sebastian’s Relativityare still available. Pre-orders are currently available for Anobium Vol. 2, releasing on January 31st, 2012.
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