The Lifted Brow issue #6, ATLAS
Wednesday January 20, 2010·
Ronnie Scott has been manning the guns at bi-annual attack journal The Lifted Brow for a few years now and he's launching issue #6 this Friday. We asked him what it took to make one of the best editions of a literary journal we ever set our cloudy retinas upon.
Penny Modra: Let's cut to the chase, Ronnie. You have DAVID FOSTER WALLACE in this rag?
Ronnie Scott: Yes I do, for one freak reason: His agent, Bonnie Nadell, is just crazily kind. David Foster Wallace is the person who has changed the way I read, write, think, and even feel more than anybody else in the world, aside from human people that I actually know. I said so in a letter, and after not very long, I had this thing just in my inbox, complete with, like, one typo. I came up with a lot of stupid titles for this story because I was shit-nervous and am generally confused, and then Bonnie Nadell, again crazily kind, picked the best one out of those. And that is why it's called A NEW EXAMINER, and not EVENTUAL PROTOCOLS FOR BUGS.
PM: And you have Christos Tsiolkas, Chip Kidd, Douglas Coupland, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring? Who was the hardest to edit? (It was Brendan wasn't it.)
RS: Well, the Eddy Current member I talk to is Mikey. He doesn't have the coolest surname in the band, because Brendan Suppression does, but he is somehow awesome anyway. The Douglas Coupland story could have easily been the hardest to edit because I initially deleted it as spam. I had emailed his agent and never heard back from anybody, and then I got a letter in my inbox that began “Dear Republic of Cameroon and Republic of Cape Verde”. I sent it to spam and did this literal double-take, like, “Hang on. I am editing an atlas.” And then I saw that it was from a “Doug”, and that the email address was d.coupland at something dot com. And that's about all the correspondence we've ever had on his piece, so who knows what else is out there, just rotting away in Gmail heaven.
PM: What's the idea with this atlas structure? It's a guide to the world?
RS: Give or take a year ago, Wikipedia said there were 246 countries in the world. Like most trained cartographers, I said “Good enough!” and invited close to two hundred bands, artists, and writers to “cover” every country, plus some cities, and also Longreach, which is a town in Queensland. So everything in here purports to “document”, “record”, “observe” the world to different levels of accuracy, usually low.
PM: How on earth did you put this thing together? 67 stories, 160 minutes of music, 144 pages of art and comics, and more than 150 limericks seems like a lot of work.
RS: It was unbelievably fucked. I was waking up at 3am most mornings freaking out about everything I had to do that day. Whenever my boyfriend didn't go to the gym and my workday had to start one hour later, I vomited blood and maggots all over the bed. I had a giant colour-coded spreadsheet that got too messy and untenable as contributors were added or pulled out of the project. So I eventually replaced it with a hand-drawn spreadsheet across ten pages of a book, and using highlighters seemed to get it pretty much under control. But less than two weeks ago I was still cutting it down from 350 pages to 300, or else it would've cost so much to post that we'd have LOST money on every international order. As somebody whose logistical brain is still just lying around in the womb somewhere, this issue was a nightmare, but now it's here. And soon it will be gone.
PM: What's going on with this costume theme at the launch on Friday? You say in your email, “I am going to rig a loincloth and wear a lot of fake tan, which is not a special thing, but I like it.” What should the rest of us wear?
RS: We're encouraging guests on Friday to dress up as the Peoples of the World: Think spicy turbans, yodelling Heidis, or the classic, elegant sombrero. And yes, I think fake tan is just unbelievably wonderful. I've attached a picture of myself and Brow/Frankie contributor Benjamin Law. Which of us do YOU want to be? I'm the one who looks like he's about to have a surf. I'm probably going to dress as a jungle person on Friday, because I think that's the last thing I can possibly dress up as that requires me to wear a fake tan. You can definitely come without a costume, too. But the best one will win a prize from something I've called the East Brunswick Savers “World Collection”. And I think it would be sad if you didn't give yourself that chance.
PM: Seriously, congratulations Ronnie. This edition really is the bananas. (Not a question.)
RS: THANK YOU!