Saturday, July 6, 2013

Not Quite Human

The latest issue of Sein und Werden takes a look at humanity, or the lack thereof. Not Quite Human collects works exposing the bits and pieces missing from nearly-human characters but also, and perhaps more importantly, uncovers the deep and crusty gaps in how we define our own humanity.

The arrangement of this collection of fiction, poetry and art begins with "Philanderer" a deceptively "normal" piece of linear prose by Rachel Rodman about a man and his extensive, even ancestral, sexual conquests and the resulting legacy of his offspring. The standard literary conventions gradually decompose until Not Quite Human ends with A. E. Reiff's seemingly random accumulation of "Dispatch Memoirs of the Ubu Attorney General", a hyperlinked miscellany including selections such as "Street Vendor's Pamphlet Distributed Outside the White House" and "Worship at the Beast Dome". Along the way you'll find Matthew Harrison's delightful poem "Scene" that pays homage to a classic monster film; Caleb True's eerily romantic "Rose and Kit", which might not be far from reality given today's medical technology; and A. J. Kirby's dark comedy "Death by Insurance Salesman".

Not Quite Human includes substantially more orthodox fiction--standard structure, accessible characters, and plots that won't permanently scar your psyche--than typically found in an issue of Sein und Werden, but there is still plenty of gore (Tom Leins' "Devil in Sports Casual"), psychosis (Elmore Snoody's "The Gibberish Solution"), and challenging conceptual framework (Tom Sheehan's "The Audion and The Fadeaway") to satisfy readers seeking avant garde and experimental work.   

This is perhaps my favorite Sein und Werden issue in a long time. I was pleased with pretty much everything in Not Quite Human, from Bob Lock's Gaimanesque "But Everyone is Different" to Violet Kendall-Brewer's neo-primitive pen and highlighter illustrations. I wish I could do a write-up for each individual piece but I'll let them speak for themselves.

By the way, the editor is accepting submissions for the next issue themed Glamourama. Get a move on, the deadline is August 20th.

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