Explosion-Proof Premier Issue

Dan Tarnowski

Explosion-Proof is a quarterly literary journal published by Fairweather Press. Their premier issue is out now and they’re also accepting submissions for Issue #2. Issue #1’s cover features a black and white photograph of the Empire State Building and the tagline “What’s Outside The Window.”

Here’s a paragraph from the Editors’ letter:

“Explosion-Proof is not a blog, as we hate blogs. It is not an internet magazine, as we don’t believe the screen is the best home for the serious rumination that good writing demands. Yes, we are aware of the downsides to this method of dead-tree publishing. It will be expensive. It will limit our readership. We remind those who feel these are two insurmountable obstacles that books, the kind held in hand and laid on shelves, may not travel the speed of light, but neither do they disappear when plugs are pulled.”

Publishing literature the traditional way is the mission of Explosion-Proof, “the magazine guaranteed not to explode” (computers can‘t guarantee the same). Interspersed with the journal’s essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry are quotes from famous writers on the subject of time. The writers quoted include Fernando Pessoa, Mark Twain, W. H. Auden, Joan Didion, John Steinbeck, Gore Vidal, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

One of my favorites:

“The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future, until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed and then they discovered nostalgia.”

–Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I love quotes and the ones in this journal give it a classic feel and express the editors’ wish to stay in touch with literature’s past.

The 127-page perfect bound journal houses a lot of work. With 6 essays, 4 pieces of fiction, and 6 poems, I was daunted by the amount of reading material. Admittedly, I haven’t read many quarterly journals; I imagine they’re meant to keep a reader occupied for roughly one quarter of a year.

Among the contents are an interview with Michael Chabon, a letter from Stephen Elliot of The Rumpus, an interesting essay by Ryan Wong called ‘On Marx and Hipsters,’ (about economics in relation to young people/Star Wars), a humorous essay by Andrea Mitchell called ‘5 High School Teachers’ (about the most common teacher archetypes), and a variety of short stories and poems from young writers.

I noticed that the short stories all deal with physicality, either using physical activities as a major plot point, like running and rugby in, ‘Run Harder, You Tenacious Few’ or creating a narrative entirely about a character’s senses, as in ‘In Extremis.’ ‘I‘ve Always Wanted You,’ my personal favorite here, is a Joy Williams-esque examination of an aging couple that takes place in a dreamlike landscape where “dunes were splayed like endless limbs.”

I found the Fiction and Poetry sections to be mixed bags in terms of impact. I suppose it’s a matter of taste though, and I imagine there’s something in here for everyone. Overall the level of quality in the writing and poetry is high and I found the writing to be unique. I was pleased that the editors tied the fictional pieces together with a theme.

I found the essays to be compelling and well-written and I enjoyed the interviews too, although the interviews are a bit short.

I like how Explosion-Proof includes clever details like the feature, ‘In The Land of Amazons: Advertisements for Book Vendors,’ in which the magazine briefly interviews small bookshops owners and sidewalk vendors. One vendor said this:

“People need to keep looking for answers and as long as people do that I’ll never be out of business. Business is bad. But, you don’t see me givin’ up. It’s just toys and everybody’s gizmoes that they all have that keeps them away, but sooner or later their gonna have a question that can only be answered by a book.”

I like Explosion-Proof’s style. I’m looking forward to Issue #2.

–Learn more about Explosion-Proof Magazine at explosion-proof.net


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