Book Review: The Minus Times Collected

The Minus Times Collected: Twenty Years/Thirty Issues (1992-2012)
Hunter Kennedy, et al, 464 pages, Featherproof Books, featherproof.com, $16.95

This fiction anthology collects every issue of the underground literary magazine published by seminal record label Drag City (Royal Trux, Ty Segall, Silver Jews) and indie publisher Featherproof ever released over its sporadic 20-year history. The collection features bizarre underground works of flash fiction, poetry and illustration from Dave Eggers, Sam Lipsyte, Wells  Tower, Daniel Clowes and others.

Then there’s the anything-but-typical Q&As with the likes of Stephen Colbert, Will Oldham and Chan Marshall. Plus, there’s a collection of local news articles that truly epitomize the “truth is stranger than fiction” adage. It’s easy to realize you’re in for a long
strange trip with stories like “Eronautica: A Space Opera” where a female astronaut chronicles her fellow crew members’ mission to impregnate her, or when you flip past a crude drawing of a young Lou Reed praying to a zebra, or when Stephen Colbert answers the question “An awkward moment with a neighbour/stranger/lover?” with, “This one time, I had a lover who I assumed was a stranger, but turned out to be my neighbour.”

It all feels like you’re either looking in on something you were never cool enough to be privy to, or that you’ve finally managed to arrive at a significant moment in history with the rest of society lagging behind you — as if reading The Minus Times in its heyday
was the literary equivalent of watching The Sex Pistols perform at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976.

Appropriately, the whole collection has a deliciously punk and D.I.Y aesthetic, with every page banged out on an ancient typewriter complete with widows, orphans and outright mistakes typed over. Unfortunately, this choice works against readability, with very little to break up the monotony of the text but antique clipart and the occasional fleck of homemade advertising. Still, for those of you who missed The Minus Times the first time (and who are we kidding? Most of us probably did) this collection is worth having on the shelf. If only to say, “I was there when…” (Aaron Broverman)

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