Anobium embraces and celebrates the strange and surreal. As a reader, sometimes this works for me and sometimes not. This is the first issue of Anobium, and I think for what they are trying to do, it's a strong start. I liked the design, for one: the journal is pocket-sized, perfect-bound, and features subtle yet effective graphic design by staff artist Jacob van Loon.
There were three writers in this inaugural issue that really poked me in my reading eyes: Luke Irwin, Rich Ives, and Jonathan Greenhause. Irwin's “The Kid and I” is a curious sci-fi tale featuring a young disabled assassin and his “chauffeur” who communicate through psychically transmitted literary allusions. The strength of the story lies in Irwin's development of the unique, almost tender at times, relationship between these two individuals: “I roll over to face him. Whatever is burning through his body, I am here. I adjust the breathing mask, and he awakens, tears in his eyes. I grab a venting hose and let out the gas in his stomach then cut the feeding line and quietly curse its majestic bleep. He sends Dumas.”
Greenhause's intriguing poems connect together through a character named Sebastian. We find Sebastian eating words on the subway, out in the country crashing an underground dance class, in a lab under experimentation by chimp-scientists, and navigating the ups and (mostly) downs of love. Sebastian endeared this reader with his innocence, and I found myself sympathizing with him in his various plights and cheering him on when he struggled.
Rich Ives writes cryptic slices of fiction. Accessibility of these pieces at the macro level varies; however, one can drop in almost anywhere and discover bits of truth. Reading them from top to bottom transports a reader into a dream-like state, as if entering another world saturated with more esoteric realities than our own. I enjoyed all four of Ives's pieces, particularly “The Angle of the Moonlight” and “Sunlight, Another Shadow.” This latter is short but charged with atmosphere, warranting a quote: “Smoke at dawn and the lights still marking the pier. The hour of fallen nests, leaves scuttling along the tiny sand dunes. Brittle thorns of lightning lengthen quickly across the sky. Weather won't be kind, but its indifference allows us all we need.”
The issue closes with a piece by Joe Meno and an accompanying interview. I've only read one of Meno's books, although I'm familiar with him from his Punk Planet days. It was interesting to get caught up on his career and see how far he has come.
Overall, Anobium should satisfy those readers that enjoy plumbing the outer limits of literature.