Twenty-Four Hours Anonymous Chapbooks
Chapbooks, Josh Medsker (publisher), issues 1-3, 42/17/10 pgs, twentyfourhoursonline.org, sold out
It’s never been so easy to avoid judging a book by its cover. These three Anonymous Chapbooks deliver on what they promise: there’s no way to identify the authors. The only person who knows their identities is the series publisher, Josh Medsker.
Anonymous Chapbook 1— entitled You are my Anti-Spam Hero — is by far the longest of the three. It’s predominantly a collection of spam emails, and the themes you’d expect to see are prevalent: sex and money. While most of this material is amusing to a degree, it doesn’t appear as if anything was done to the text outside of copying it from an email and pasting into the chapbook. It would have made for a more interesting collection if the curator had attempted to manipulate or enhance the emails in some way.
Based on its content, it’s a safe bet that Anonymous Chapbook 2 — The use of travel — was written by a New Yorker. It’s half a postcard from the city (what the writer is seeing and hearing) and half a dissection of the ways that New York living can affect a person. It later moves on to do the same for Pittsburgh: the “City of the Perpetually Looming Thunderstorm.” Ultimately, the majority of the events that this chapbook explores are too mundane and personal to have wide appeal — there’s no allusion to a shared human experience.
It’s in Anonymous Chapbook 3 — The Time Traveler’s Ass and Other Mildly Alaskan Situations — that we’re finally served some charming material. Its flash fictions visit The Great Ingot of Pure Time, where chrononauts use their butts to communicate with one another, but it also explores more down-to-earth concerns like the shoes, residents and anarchist state troopers of Alaska.
Medsker recently announced that his activities under the Twenty-Four Hours banner (publishing, blogging) have been put on indefinite hiatus after a 15-year run, but he’s planning a “massive” send-off publication for the summer. (Scott Bryson)