This issue takes off with a fireball and lands with an iceberg. Jonathan Holley’s The Minus World is part of a series he’s been working on, of very short shorts very vaguely inspired by the 8-bit Nintendo games of his childhood. The Minus World take as inspiration an infamous glitch of Super Mario Brothers (also in this issue, you’ll find The Warriors (a print exclusive), which has its loose kernel in the game Ikari Warriors). Eric Howerton’s Vacation closes the issue and knocks our socks off every time we read it. So if your socks fly off don’t be surprised, but be warned to put them back on most hastily as the story is also quite likely to leave you with chills. Matthew Dexter’s Crocodile Tears features two of our favorite things and one of our least: vivid imagery, private swimming pools, and enraged bees. Which we dislike we’ll leave you free to guess. Alec Niedenthal’s Football is pretty much mostly completely not at all about football. In Trumble’s Brother (a print exclusive), Brian Mihok writes of the kind of void that can fit in a pocket or swallow a town. It’s a magical tale and contains the third-funniest line of text in this issue, but you’ll have to pay attention or it’ll fly right by. The Antietam Whore by Shawn Maddey contains the first-funniest. Every time I watch a television program with the advisory “contains adult situations,” I say a prayer that the show will focus on couples talking about homeowner’s insurance, spinal bifida, and eating salads but usually it’s just code for hornification. Wade Ostrowski’s Emergency Contacts mentions six different meals in the story of a good-hearted Meals on Wheels delivery driver, all consumed by very adult adults, but not a single salad is mentioned. Salad is mentioned in Tom Mahony’s Wine and Salad, not only in the story title but in the first sentence as well. It’s a very short short that can be read in seconds, that inch-for-inch mentions salads more often than any other story in the bunch. In How to Be a Literary Figure (a print exclusive), Matthew Salesses tells the tale of a fake Charles Bukowski. We generally run away from any story that mentions the man, but we liked this one so much we made an exception. In The Rise and Fall of Super Town, David Henne show us alien super suits, a New Golden Age, and a human / animal war of attrition. If you don’t smile at the last line of this story you don’t smile at the right lines.
In addition to the proper stories we’ve folded betwixt the pages a lilliputian bonus publication: MZMMR-IZER is a mini-zine of many mini-reviews curated by Johnny America slush pile reader Richard P. Saunders, who is a great-great-great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, popularizer of the modern almanac, most erotic of America’s founding fathers, and inventor of both lightning and lightning rods.
Both magazine and mini-’zine sport two-color silkscreened covers, thread binding, and are printed paper from America’s oldest family-run paper mill. Seven print-exclusive illustrations by John Lee accompany the stories.