media and technology
As Rebel Inc forsakes the world of fanzines for book publishing, two Scottish literary magazines are fighting to fill the gap. Deirdre Molloy reports.
The freestanding racks of the nation‘s bookstores are groaning under the weight of hipper-than-thou literary magazines. Slam poetry pamphlets. phuture ﬁction journals
the art-rant variety jockey for space and kudos. The extra weight of Queer Fiction might ﬁnally capsize the displays.
Just as well. then. that Scotland's newest litrnag will only be sold around pubs. clubs and live reading events in Edinburgh. The second such niche-targeted title to be launched in the capital this year. Queer Fiction. naturally. promises to be as different from its fellow l‘)()6 maiden voyager. The Source. as. well . . . chalk from cheese. So what species of ‘different' are they ﬂogging us this time'.’
‘There‘s a lot of writing that would be considered unacceptable or in poor taste.‘ says poet Sandie (‘raigie. former assistant editor at Rebel Inc and one of the four-strong collective behind the enterprise. ‘But there‘s a lot of things going on in the world that are poor taste —- like the Criminal Justice Act. the Jobseekers‘
inance. the fact that S&M is
(complete with W 'bsites) and rags of
Stranger than ﬁction
now illegal. Personally I don't think there‘s anything offensive going into it.‘
Sadomasochism. slapstick politics and surreal comedy violence are all planned for fiction and art slots in the launch issue. On the non-ﬁction side. Rebel Inc's Kevin Williamson has given a (no doubt unexpurgated)
‘There’s a tendency in literature for things to get a bit stagnant and we’re setting a firecracker under all that.’
interview on his Scotland Against Drugs Hypocrisy campaign. and a spunky recipe competition should tickle some readers.
Craigie admits Scotland is well served by literary magazines at the moment — she name-checks her contacts in Cutting 'Ieetli. West Coast Magazine and Clio/mum in one unbroken sentence. But there‘s a vast market still to be tapped. she reckons.
‘There‘s still a need for something fresher. We're not bothered about selling it in the shops. but punting it around different venues like a famine. l‘rn constantly meeting folk who‘ve never been to a reading before and they've had a really great time because it‘s not the kind of “sit on wooden chairs and clap“ event. There‘s music and DJs.‘
‘Frcsh‘ - it‘s a catch-all adjective that crops tip whoever you talk to.
but an editorial spat between Scotland‘s latest literary arrivals is unlikely. Contrast the stylish. pared- down design of The Source with Queer Fiction's starkly hewn photocopy aesthetic. While Queer Fiction gets ftill marks for use of software packages. The Source emblazons ‘ecstasy‘ on the cover and boasts a poem from the little known collaborations of the late Norman MacCaig and one Francis Begbie. Aye. it‘s hard to pigeonhole these wily publications.
‘In our experience. a lot of the most interesting. funny and original work comes from previously unpublished writers. people who haven‘t been exposed to the literati.‘ says Andrew Kelly, co- editor of The Source. ‘There's a tendency in literature for things to get a bit stagnant and we‘re ,- setting a firecracker fr.‘ -,; 1 under all that.‘ he "' ' adds in pep-talk- speak. reflecting the ' magazine‘s youthful I Q" " slant.
But while The Source launched with a £4000 loan from the Prince‘s Scottish Youth Business Trust. Raol Kawalski — writer and adopted Comanche Indian — draws on different
membership of Queer F iction‘s \ editorial team. ‘Coming from a musical background. I'm quite cross- disciplinary.‘ he says. ‘All the things I learned about putting on gigs can be applied to organising readings. l’m approaching the job like putting a compilation tape together. I think if I get assaulted by an irate writer within the ﬁrst year I will know I've succeeded.‘
The Source: Issue Two is available nationally in Waterstoue Is at £2. 99. Queer Fiction will be published later this month at £1.99.
experiential resources for his
Glasgow-based MS magazine is quietly getting serious. Launched in I988 as a Scottish lifestyle magazine given away free in pubs and clubs. the now dance-orientated title is attempting to strengthen its hold south of the border with a new national distribution deal.
The man in charge of the expansion. Billy Graham. is bullish about its future. ‘The magazine is going well in Scotland. and I think we're giving something back to the Scottish people.‘ he says. ‘But at the same time. the Scottish music industry seems to be held back to a certain extent by the fact that the English press are ignoring them. So rather than wait about for the English press to do a good job on what‘s happening in Scotland. we thought we‘d take the word down there.‘
But how will snooty Sassenachs react to this zealous mission to spread
The Source: another page-turner tor the llhnag scene /
Scottish dance music? Graham immediately points out that M8 is not just about the music. but also fashion and lifestyle. ‘We often get pigeon- holed as a rave magazine,‘ he says. ‘lt‘s always very annoying because we‘ve always tried not to bejust a single type of magazine.‘ He is emphatic about what it will offer the southerner jaded by London's dominance: ‘lt's a breath of fresh air. M8 has got a presence all over the country and I think that keeps our underground edge.‘
The underground edge is important to Graham. who sees Scotland as a testing ground for Government initiatives regarding drugs and youth culture. It is for this political reason that he believes the Scottish scene is relevant to young people all over Britain.
With circulation up a third on last year. and a new ofﬁce in London. it seems that southemers are indeed paying attention. Graham is cannin optimistic: ‘We're getting there with what we‘re trying to achieve. and we’ve 0ot great plans for next year.‘ Perhaps M6 would be more appropriate. (John Henderson)
The List l-l4 Nov 1996105