Editor: Jeremy Hansom-Finger
Type: Anthology of Poetry & Short Fiction
If there is any crime the internet should stand trial for it would be the creative-work-should-be-free mentality that has made any artistic profession a struggle. However with said mentality, the internet has been kind and has created a new business model to partly address the damage: the crowd-funder. Crowd-funding is giving the goods, be it webcomics or poetry, for free in the hope that the (ideally growing) fan base will like it enough that when money for the print issue is demanded through crowd-funding sites, fans are willing to pay up (Serious, one guy made more than a million dollars in a month from doing this). One up and coming local magazine that has gone this route is Dragnet whose (successfully funded) anthology I’m going to share with you now.
Anthologizing the beginning years of Dragnet, the cover looks like a Bioshock novelization bent on being as deco-art as it can unpretentiously be while set in a Newfoundland harbor. Already my first impression is a anthology that doesn’t come bursting through the door, fists swinging, but rather one that would rather decorate your door with a supersoaker loaded with holy cranberry juice and aiming between the eyes when you open the door; yes I know that doesn’t make any sense but once start reading, you’ll have your own cute analogies to describe this odd discovery.
Unlike the elongated literary fiction from the likes of FiddleHead or Granta where reading is coughing through the spicy haze of “eclectic” no matter how much gritty realism they throw at it, Dragnet is a hyper-realistic bent with a speculative quirk, which keeps things fresh and flowing like an autumn day in December.
Reading the pages is encountering the last swamp thing left in the world and all he wants to do is undergo a species-change operation to be human or turning pages for a wine tour of someone’s apartment. It’s stories that hover around the edges of the camera filming reality TV, which make Dragnet shine like a new quarter on a gum-splattered sidewalk.
If there is a weakness to the anthology it’s that the poems and fiction are so short you could breeze through them faster than a power nap.
But in a way it’s shortness is appropriate for the glimpses into a weird little world that Dragnet makes for itself and in the end a great read in second-hand coffee shops next to auto shops, in a half-full subway car on Sunday afternoon, any time that you’re not feeling routine. It is a most excellent introduction for someone who is sick of the Literary in literary magazines and wants to stir their birthday cake mix with a wrench.
By Joshua P’ng, a North York writer