Occasional Lit Mag Reviews: Ninth Letter Fall/Winter 2012-13

Title: Ninth Letter

Fall/Winter 2012-2013


Theme: There’s no “named” theme that I could find, but my money is on “dot matrix.”

Featured Names: It seems en vogue these days to call out big time people on the front covers, but Ninth Letter went a different route, instead featuring a wheat field and ghosts on the cover–it feels very much like the classic M. Night flick The Village.

What: Okay, once inside things remain interesting. There is a lot of old computer-feeling design, but it appears modern and pleasing. At least they’re taking design chances (yes, I’m talking to you POETRY). In fact, they have a design feature. This time it’s on Tony Brock, whose pop-entrails-meets-30s-dress-up collage aesthetic was a fun diversion. The backpage has something called “animated bestiary” where a thin film can be placed over an octopus drawing to create movement. Very chic. I’ll keep going on design because one thing I very much enjoyed was the footnotes layout. They had small arrows that pointed to colored inset text throughout the book, making it a pleasurable (hypertext) reading experience.

It’s bigger than digest sized, but not letter-sized, I’m not sure what this type is called.

Why (or Why Not to) Read It: This one is definitely in the “read” category. The first piece I tore into after flipping to it randomly was a piece on Scrabble by Roxane Gay. She’s everywhere and really seems to be priming herself for some Strayed-like breakout. That being said, I don’t see how she keeps up her level of production. Cheers to you.

The Mary Miller story “Recidivism” was top notch.

Another quality one was “Piaf and Roadkill” by Edward Kelsey Moore, about a cat getting stuck in his engine. It was one of those simple pieces that had me thinking “how is this interesting?” yet it stayed interesting the whole time. I hate/love when that happens.

I do and don’t read much poetry these days. I’m more likely to read Tumblr posts tagged “poetry” just to reach to the end than pick up my friends at POETRY (yeah, I’m hating on those guys for some reason). But this Ted White “guy” just slays me. From “Hate Crime at 7-Eleven” to “Pineapples are fun to slice if you have a good knife,” White mixes Scott McClanahan with the Home Shopping Network to deliver something wholly original and off-putting, really. The thing is, as is explained in the poetry feature section, White is actually a creation from a young woman writing in an altered voice. She abandoned her pretentious creative writing voice and adopted this whole Other self to create something entirely different. The poems were my favorite part of the issue really, and I want Rachel Farrell to keep up. For a long time.

What Else: Clarice Lispector. It looks like they honor a literary forebear in every issue, and this time they chose Clarice Lispector, whose gotten more love on the interwebs in the last 3 months than she has in the previous 5 years. But good for her. I picked up that one cockroach book and couldn’t finish it, I don’t give things much of a chance these days, I’ll try it again soon, I promise.

Next Time: I’ll try Ninth Letter again. This was my first go-around, but they are doing interesting stuff.

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1 comment

  1. If you move the “thin film” from the bestiary insert over the front cover you will see more than ghosts!