I am intrigued by Gigantic magazine. I like the name. They have a really nice website. I find them mysterious and elusive. They never respond to my submissions unless I withdraw something (totally my fault) and then they are very nice and congratulatory so the intrigue only grows.
On Saturday, I received Gigantic #2 in the mail and promptly read it from front to back. I’m surprised more people don’t talk about this magazine. It’s damn sexy and a fine publication.
See? It has a little wrapper that was very exciting to open. It was very satisfying to feel the adhesive come apart. Gigantic, as you can see, is gigantic both literally and figuratively. I’ve never seen a literary magazine in this shape and size so that was a nice surprise. The paper is glossy and thick and holding the object is a real pleasure.
Yes, the stain is fading on my fairly new IKEA coffee table. I’m pretty distressed about this and in a deep denial about the overall quality of IKEA furniture.
Gigantic is a full color magazine—another pleasant surprise. I was blown away by the artwork by Thomas Allen and Thomas Doyle. (Aside: unless my eyes deceive me, Thomas Allen’s work is also on the cover on the imminent issue of Barrelhouse.) I love all things miniature and so I was particularly impressed by Doyle’s “antipodes” and “the reprisal, ” clever small scale sculptures with so much to look at–intricate detail and construction all telling these lovely stories full of subtext only constrained by the audience’s imagination.
Seriously? I’m really distressed about the fading color. I purchased a dark walnut stain from the hardware store and tried to apply it to the faded parts and it didn’t work. That’s about the extent of my ability to do that sort of thing so I asked a gentleman friend to assess the situation. He said he’d have to sand the table down and re-stain it to make the color even. That sounds like a lot of work (for him, not me) and would necessitate my cleaning off the surface of the table which is one of my primary means of storing books and magazines. Alas.
There was a surprise inside Gigantic—cards with biographies of famous Americans by Margo Jefferson, Michael Kimball, Stephen O’Connor, Joe Wenderoth, Ken Sparling, Clancy Martin and Deb Olin Unferth with artwork by Andrea da Loba. My favorite biographies were Crystal Gayle because growing up my mom loved her music and had hair almost as long as Crystal’s, Thomas Shelby and Sally Hemmings. The Hemmings piece, “Long Time,” by Stephen O’Connor was beautifully written, intimate, imaginative. O’Connor writes, “They are listening to her forehead, shining lanterns into her mouth and ears, planning expeditions down into her dreams because she will not awake. Her dreams are a countryside in themselves, forested and flowing with meanings the children do not want to understand, and what the dreams tell them is that their mother will never awake, and that the children are now and forever alone.” Â It was the kind of writing that startled me with its fabulist, rhythmic tones and I read the brief piece more than once.
The interior design was clean, interesting and kept me off balance with different margins and stories running across pages and other unique layout strategies. With each turn of the page, I had to re-orient myself. At first, I confess I found it distracting but then I thought it was a nice way to keep the reader physically engaged both through content and design. The only nitpick I have about the design is that there were parts that were difficult to read because blocks of black text would be superimposed on artwork. To be fair, I’m a little blind and don’t like wearing my glasses.
I enjoyed everything I read in Gigantic #2 and there were several standouts. If I had to characterize their aesthetic, I would call it surrealist and fabulist and gritty and cool. The issue opens with “Black Seams” by Robert Coover, an excerpt from NOIR and “Tenders” by Meg Pokrass where she writes quite tenderly, no pun intended, and gives us perfect lines like “I loved his belly, and wanted to take off my shoes so I could warm my toes on it.” After reading the first two stories, I knew I was going to love this magazine.
Ravi Mangla’s “Visiting Writers,” was just plain clever. I also enjoyed Brian Allen Carr’s “Fake Pregnant,” with a fantastic ending where he writes, “We saw her ex-fiance in line at a Ferris wheel about six years later. Me, Jesse and the gimp kid. The fiance was with a new woman. He leaned into her and whispered. Jesse started crying. She knew he had said something bad.” Luke Goebel’s “So Many Sons” was odd and disconcerting and possessed the quality of a graphic novel. I could see each moment in the story vividly. I’m a little burnt out on Sam Lipsyte interviews but he offers some interesting words in conversation with Gigantic. Reese Kwon is one of my favorite writers so it was exciting to come upon the very short, but lovely, “Make.” Â Finally, “Kansas” by I. Fontana is also worth checking out. It’s witty and interesting and different from other work I’ve read from the author.
This is how IKEA gets you. Their furniture is so affordable that when the stain fades or something breaks you think, “I’ll just replace it,” only you’re replacing your furniture every six months and in the long run paying what you would pay for furniture that could be delivered pre-assembled only you forget all that when you’re in the IKEA MegaPlex overwhelmed by clever European furniture design, screaming children, delicious treats, and your handy tiny pencil. Also, the Expedit bookcases are fantastic.
This is a unique way to list the issue’s contributors, isn’t it?
Overall, Gigantic is meticulously envisioned, edited and executed. You want to read this magazine and one lucky reader will get to do so with our compliments! If you’d like a free copy of Gigantic, indicate your interest in the comments. We’ll draw a name at random Tuesday at 5 pm. Stay tuned for other excellent giveaways! Now go get Gigantic.