MEMORY MAN, by Lindsey Robinson

Robinson lives and writes in Alabama.


She didn’t drop her big basket of laundry or scream when she saw the man sitting in her living room, on her couch. Later, when she explains what happened, that will strike her as odd. When she saw him sitting there — very good-looking, really, crisp shirt, tidy creases in pinstriped pants legs, smoking a cigarette — she probably should have dropped it, letting all the white sheets and soft, warm pillowcases tumble onto the carpet without worrying about them getting rumpled or dirty. She was shocked, of course. Her eyes got round and wide, her mouth was a little round hole, and her nostrils flared a little. Her tidy, childlike face, five circles all at once. She supposed it just wasn’t in her nature to drop things.

Then she went to the bedroom, where she saw his underclothes in their little heap at the foot of the bed. She opened the hamper and with delicate fingers separated his wrinkled white shirts and her white panties from her printed skirts and his black socks. She stripped the bed and shook the pillows out of their cases.

Scooping the pale mound into the king-size sheet, she hoisted it into the washing machine, emptied a cup of detergent and a little extra bleach, and set the knob to Normal Wash. In the spring and summer, after the clothes finished their spin — and this was the thing, the crucial, unequivocal thing for her — she put the soft, damp mass into a basket and took it outside to the backyard, where she had strung three lines from the high wooden fence that surrounded their small yard and rigged them to the edge of their small patio. She was the only person in her neighborhood who line-dried her clothes, ever.

On this Tuesday, it had rained the night before, so the grass was wet and the ground was still a little muddy. She was barefoot, and the mud squished under her feet and between her toes. The sun warmed her forearms and intensified the clean, damp smell from the laundry. She slung the clothes over the line until her hands and arms were slick and sore.

When she finished her routine, she usually spent a few minutes between the clotheslines, looking at her work, letting her mind wander. This Tuesday, she was outside for quite a while after she had hung up the sheets and pillowcases and underwear. The grass was a deep, vibrant green, wet and very shiny. Even the mud looked rich. The clothes looked especially white, bone white, brilliant white, and she pressed her nose into them and inhaled deeply. She smelled sunshine and electricity, and also something else, a whiff of rich smoke that faded almost before she noticed it. She looked at the sun through the clothes. From far away, she heard a crow caw. Feeling strangely childlike, she spent the next 30 minutes in between the lines of laundry, just touching, imagining that the sheets were the sails of a ship, the inside of a circus tent, the fluid white walls of an undersea castle. Then she started to feel silly and went inside to dust the furniture.

It was after she took the clothes off the line, folded them up and brought them inside that she first saw the man on her couch, the man in the button-down shirt who had folded his suit jacket neatly on the arm of the couch and loosened his tie, the man who was smoking a cigarette and casually tapping the ash into his palm — no one in the house smoked, so there were no ashtrays. All the doors were locked except for the sliding door that led to the backyard, so she had to assume that he had somehow slipped inside while she was out with the laundry. But that made no sense. The yard was tiny and surrounded on all sides by the fence. There was a gate, but surely she would have noticed if he’d opened it, snuck into the yard and walked right into her house, wouldn’t she? The man smiled.

“Oh,” he said, cupping his hand to catch the ash from his cigarette. “I see I’ve caught you in the middle of something.”

He closed his fingers around the ash and slid his fist inside the pocket of his jacket. His voice was soothing and deep, just a little timid.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said as he took his hand out of his jacket. The ash was gone. He smiled agreeably.

“I promise you, and I’m not saying this to frighten you or anything, I really don’t plan on hurting you, truly,” he said, “but I promise if you scream, it will have absolutely no effect whatsoever.”

Lying on her coffee table where a nice bowl of flowers had once been was a black gun. She stared at him as she held the basket of laundry and, after a long minute, made a noise in the back of her throat.

He was down to the end of his cigarette. Holding the smoking butt between his thumb and forefinger, he glanced around the room. After a moment, he picked up the pistol and turned it upside-down, which made her put down her laundry. She backed herself against the wall, and he smiled reassuringly as he carefully pressed the cigarette tip against the butt of the gun, stubbing it out. He slipped what was left of the cigarette into the pocket of his jacket and, still holding the gun, stood up. He was quite tall, she thought.“There now,” he said. “I think it’s time for us to be going. We’re both very busy people.”

What could she do? She had never seen a gun up close before, and she was sure that if she tried to run outside or into the kitchen to dial 911, he would easily shoot her. By the time she had given it any thought, he was already holding the front door open for her, jacket on, gun tucked away somewhere. Still barefoot, with her hair in a knot and no purse, she left her house. They walked down the little path that she had lined with moss rose and lavender a few weeks before, and he held the door of his pretty blue Mercedes open as she slid inside and buckled her safety belt. She stared at her front door as he started the engine and backed out.

She didn’t really know much about cars, but she could tell this one handled like a dream. As they glided along her street, she noticed the world seemed different, richer somehow, when she was riding inside a nice car. The houses looked dainty and quiet, and the trees curved regally over the road.

He coughed. “You know, I grew up not too far from here,” he said. “I think your husband did too, didn’t he? I remember him, from grammar school. He was a little older than me. I’m sure he wouldn’t remember who I was.”

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. She didn’t spend a lot of time watching the news or reading the paper, but she scoured her memory for his face — surely there were warnings about him, a this-just-in bulletin about a strange, handsome, perfectly pleasant man, a local, who also carried a gun and kidnapped women. He drove expertly, she noticed, just a hair over the speed limit with one hand on the wheel and the other resting lightly on the gearshift. He had a tranquil smile on his face, and even whistled a little.

They were riding through a part of town she knew of but never visited. They passed through a neighborhood, and then a business district. The miles slid by underneath them, and the office buildings and stores grew farther and farther apart.

He cleared his throat. “It’s hard sometimes, to remember so much.” He glanced at her. “I remember everything. Everything. Can you imagine what that’s like? Everything I do and see has its own separate memory. Every single day a new batch, all of them, into the old storage bin.” He tapped the side of his head.

She smoothed her hands over her skirt. She knew she was supposed to say something or ask something. But what? She didn’t know. It was too late for Do I know you? Where are you taking me? Maybe, What are you going to do to me?

Did it matter? She smoothed her hands over her skirt and licked her lips.

“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” she whispered. Her voice was almost lost in the soft purr of the engine. He brightened.

“Nobody can,” he said. “It’s really strange. I ask other people what they remember all the time. They give me a handful of childhood stories, tell me about a few great or terrible moments, and that’s it. And that’s the thing, you see? Those memories shape them. Me though, I have too many memories. Can you see? I’m completely shapeless.”

He rubbed the steering wheel and let out a long, low whistle. He laughed.

“It’s OK if you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s just the way I’m different, I guess.”

The road had turned to dirt now. She was completely lost. He stopped the car along the side of the road. He looked at his hands and spoke in a hesitant voice. “There’s a place I like to go, not too far from here,” he said. “I found it once and never forgot it. Barely a few minutes’ walk.” He got out of the car and opened her door.

He walked in front of her, so that she could see the faint outline of the gun tucked into the waistband of his trousers. They walked through the dirt, and into grass and a young forest, where the trees were small and barely budding.

After a few minutes the trees opened and, looking around him, she saw a pond, pale green and hardly 20 feet across. He sat on the ground near the edge of the pond and motioned for her to sit next to him. When she sat, tucking her skirt around her legs, he patted her knee and smiled at her.

“I think it’s almost finished, though,” he said. “I celebrated my 31st birthday just a few weeks ago, and I think I’m finally starting to forget.”

She looked out at the water.

“Memories fade as you get older,” she said in a low voice.“Fade? No, not quite,” he said. “No, it’s more like a party. This room,” — he tapped his head — “is full of people, and more keep piling in. Soon, the room gets so packed that for every person that comes in, another one has to leave. Can you imagine?

“Take today, for instance, or this week. What do you think you’ll remember about it in 10 years? Not much, that’s what. But not me. I’ll remember every great and awful and boring thing from here on out.

“I would get so depressed. Sometimes, I could barely take it, when I was a younger man. It was so hard to just live,” he said.

Her eyes got wide. She thought about the gun in his waistband.

“But I’ve accepted it. I’m a memory man.” He laughed. “And now, at least, I have a little control. I can’t control what I lose, of course, but the new memories, those I can create. It’s a power I haven’t had before.”

He rested his head in his hands, rubbing his scalp. When he looked at her, he didn’t smile.“And let’s say something terrible, something completely unforeseen happens. Let’s just say I end up with a new, horrible memory. So what, who cares? It all just ends up in the old file anyway.”

She stared into his eyes, his dark, bottomless eyes. He seemed so very old, and she wondered why she hadn’t noticed it before.

The pond shimmered in front of them as they sat together, side by side, not moving and not speaking. After what seemed to be the right amount of time, she snuck a peek at his face. He looked peaceful again, smiling. She pictured the roomful of memories crowded in his mind, always loud, always moving, always threatening to invade the present. She really couldn’t imagine.

She stood up and walked to the edge of the water, waded in up to her ankles. Her feet looked large and bloated. She took a deep breath.

“When I was little, I used to look for places like this,” she said. “We lived in a suburb, but I always liked forests and creeks and things like that. I’d ride my bike for hours, out into the country, just to find places like this.” She laughed. “My parents would be so worried about me.”

“That’s a nice memory,” he said. “You’re lucky.”

She looked at her reflection in the water, at her quivering lips and eyes and hair. The light was fading.

“I need to go home,” she said quietly.

He sighed and stood up, brushing the dirt off his rumpled pants. He smiled, and his face reminded her of a dishcloth that had been wrung out one too many times.“I guess I’ll be arrested,” he said. “You’ll have to tell the police, you know. It’s the only thing you can do.”

The sun had set by the time they pulled into the driveway. She was relieved to see her husband wasn’t home yet.

He lurched the car to a stop, and she stepped out gingerly, feeling the cold, hard cement under her toes. She turned, trying to catch his eye, but he won’t look at her. Wordlessly, without unbuckling his seatbelt, he reached over, closed the passenger door and sped away. Sudden as he came.

The smell of exhaust mingled with the scent of lavender and night air. When she opened the door, the first thing she saw was the basket of laundry, glowing in the darkness. The sliding door was wide open, yawning, calling her outside. She shut it and locked it.

She wandered upstairs, trailing her fingers on the banister, into the bedroom. The lump of dark dirty laundry was still on the floor where she left it, crouched and crumpled, like a sleeping dog. She perched on the bed, staring at the lump, until she heard the hum and cough of her husband’s car in the driveway. She got down on her knees and picked through the pile, pulling out a pair of shorts and her husband’s navy t-shirt. She stripped in the darkness and slid into the clothes. After slipping her cold feet into a pair of tennis shoes, she jogged down the stairs as her husband opened the door.

“I’m going for a run,” she said. She kissed him on the mouth, squeezing his butt. He laughed. She was out the door before he could ask any questions.

Tonight, she ran, listening to the slap-slap of her shoes and the night birds — weightless, like a sheet in the breeze.

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Alabama-based writer Van Newell teaches at the University of AL in Tuscaloosa. He did an MFA at Columbia University.


I was twisting my hair, the ends of it, because I couldn’t find my hairband, and even though he’s the assistant manager, Doug called in sick, saying that he would be late getting in, being hung over from dollar margaritas at Sabor Latino. So I was stuck watching the store and with school letting out for the afternoon it was going to be Shoplifters ahoy, come ye who are heavy burdened with being broke come yon unto thy mall and unto Hot Topic. Our key demographic wears trench coats in early June because it’s hot and they want to show how me against the world they are.

Girlfriend comes in, more-goth-than-thou skin, hair cooked black and I thought to myself I bet she has The Craft on blue ray and DVD. But there is no one else in the store, and thusly a totally wrong time to boost anything, so she walks through our 400-square-foot store and no one else comes in the next twenty minutes and I’m almost to the point of telling her to just take something under five bucks because I was tired of scoping her. Then I reached that point. “Just take the bacon flavored mints over in the clearance section and go,” I said.

To further induce the lifting of shop, I bend down on one knee to tie my shoe so she can finagle something and she snaps forward, grabbing a pewter Insane Clown Posse necklace hanging from a stand and for dessert she takes my purse there on the glass counter.

But I’m after her.

Girlfriend hangs a right out of the store towards the food court and she’s quicker than I gave her credit. Rentacop Rob is standing there and I yell at him that my purse has been stolen and he takes flight after her, his poor man’s state trooper hat flying off, and we chase her down to the exit doors and there’s a dented Suzuki with the engine running that she hops into. The riceburner guns it and is gone before I can read the plate. I put my hands on my knees because I’m overweight and I haven’t run that hard since I had to for the Presidential Fitness test in eighth grade. Rob goes around the corner to see if he can somehow get a look at the plates from a distance.

It didn’t hit me until I passed the Sabarro that what really sucks is not that my purse was stolen but that the contents of said purse were gone. Have to call the credit card company and cancel that. Go to the DMV. Go get another social security card. Oi, this was starting to suck and then I come back to the store and I find it in the act of being ransacked. It was a total setup, the girl had been the bait and I had been the mark.

Three metalhead kids are in there and I go after the smallest and push him onto the ground. He wiggles away, but the other two are still there and I reach into my pocket and take my keys and arrange them in between my fingers like the YWCA self-defense class showed me and I start punching away because I know these unwashed losers, vaguely, cause they go to my high school and they’re too cool for school to give me the time of day but apparently they are not above thefting a Slipknot t-shirt.

And I get to draw blood, scratches on their forearms as they try to defend themselves. Rentacop Rob shows back up and tries to stretch his body out like a sumo wrestler to keep the rest of them running and tells me he’s got it under control. Call the cops, he says, as if he was waiting his whole life to say that. And I talk to the 9-1-1 lady who asks if I know her granddaughter because I sound like one of her friends and that’s West Memphis, Arkansas, for you and I tell her I’ve got to go.

Then Girlfriend shows back up and with something that looks like an electric shaver in her hand and she plants it right in Rentacop’s back and I hear a buzz and the poor jerk falls onto his stomach. She tells me to stay back, bitch, and I’m sure corporate’s policy is for bitches to, in fact, stay back, and I don’t own this stuff in the store and I don’t own a share of stock in the company but I want to have some fun and I throw a crystal Super Mario figurine right at her forehead and if it doesn’t get lodged into said forehead. She screams and goes cross-eyed but pulls it out and she starts to cry and charge at me and by now there’s a billion people around and then Doug shows up with a shopping bag from Foot Locker and he pulls her off of me. He barges in with his dick-a-swingin’ to save the day and bends over to tell all three of them there on the floor that they are under arrest.

Girlfriend does the right thing and she tases Doug and I feel my eyes grow large and bark out a laugh and I make a note to myself to write her a thank-you note while she is in juvenile detention. If she can get over the whole bloody figurine in the forehead, I bet we could become fast friends when she gets out.

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Final 10-anniv. book push with Feb. events in Chicago, Nashville

With a month left in THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter.com campaign to fund the printing of our mammoth 10th anniversary anthology, I’m starting what may amount to the final big push to reach the goal. It’s most definitely in sight. As of today, we’re just more than $250 shy of it. Contributors, T2H partisans and others who’ve helped spread the word about the project, a big shout to you. Your efforts have clearly born fruit. Now would be the time to start shooting out those reminders to those who may have been distracted by the holidays or just, well, distracted… I know I was, to one degree or another, but still managed to, just prior to said holiday, get the second in our All Hands On special-edition broadsheets out. If you missed Chicago writer and lit scene force Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards” minisheet (here pictured, front side), read it here or download the minisheet directly by clicking on the image. Part of Sasaki’s “Letters of Interest” series, which might well be the “Lazlo letters” of the internet age — marketing its target, manipulation through on-the-spot digital, textual interaction its method — the piece is also featured in the 10th anniversary collection, after debuting to a crowd at the East Nashville Portland Brew back in September last year.

Speaking of Portland Brew, two events will cap the fund-raising campaign. Here in Nashville, a crew of All Hands On-contributing writers spanning THE2NDHAND’s 11-year journey from Chicago to Birmingham, Nashville, and Louisville, with faces new and old, gathers 11 years to the Saturday, Feb. 12, we hosted our first release party on the fourth floor of 1278 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The reading will be in large part collaboratively focused, with Birmingham’s Nadria Tucker and Nashville’s Matt Cahan presenting work from the book and C.T. Ballentine, myself, Susannah Felts and Henry Ronan-Daniel performing under the Pitchfork Battalion moniker.

Martin Cadieux, too, the wood-block printmaker I’ve written about here, will table with certain of his prints, including examples of the envelopes he did for us to house collections of past broadsheets.

And if you’re in Chicago, Feb. 1 is the date of our next Nerves of Steel event — this one features the hip-hop of the Tomorrow Kings, Nerves of Steel alumnus Mairead Case, presenting a graphic novel, and All Hands On contributor Marc Baez, among others.

Here’s our Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

And for media folks among you, I’ve updated our press release to reflect the upcoming events associated, at http://the2ndhand.com/T2HKICKSTARTERRELEASE.doc. Full text is below. Again, big thanks for helping spread the word, likewise to those who’ve contributed.

Nashville and Chicago-based THE2NDHAND passes halfway mark in pledge campaign for ‘All Hands On’ 10th-anniversary anthology; ending campaign events in Chicago, Nashville Feb. 1 and 12

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, 2000-11, a Reader will be published in 2011 to celebrate and lay down the best of the broadsheet and online magazine’s 10+ years of publishing writing by the budding insurgents of the American lit landscape and other more established writers. THE2NDHAND reached the halfway point in a 90-day fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter.com a week after its launch on November 18 to raise $2,000 to cover printing costs.

By pledging $14 or more, readers can preorder a copy of the 300-plus-page book, which collects work all told from 40 writers, 3 illustrators, four editors, and a couple janitors. Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader for the campaign, or http://the2ndhand.com/books.html.

True to form, the book begins with a section of new, as-yet unpublished work representing the full range of the magazine’s long local presence in Chicago (with new work by Chicagoans Patrick Somerville, Michael Zapata and Fred Sasaki), Birmingham, Ala. (Nadria Tucker) and Nashville, Tenn. (Matt Cahan), as well as its far-flung influence in the world of new literary writing the nation over. Contributors to the front, new-work section of the book represent regions from New England to the West Coast, and the large majority of the collection is devoted to special sections highlighting short fiction by the magazine’s best repeat contributors, from Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps), first published in THE2NDHAND in its third issue in its first year, 2000, to more recent contributors like Chicagoan Heather Palmer, whose novella “Charlie’s Train” was serialized at THE2NDHAND.com as its 11th year began in February of 2010.

On Feb. 1, Chicago writer and All Hands On special-section contributor Marc Baez will perform as part of THE2NDHAND’s SoYou Think You Have Nerves of Steel? literary/variety performance series, hosted THE2NDHAND coeditor Jacob Knabb and All Hands On contributing writer Kate Duva, and in Nashville, THE2NDHAND founding editor Todd Dills and coeditor C.T. Ballentine (of Louisville, Ky.) gather with contributors Nadria Tucker (of Birmingham), Cahan, Susannah Felts and others for a reading on the exactly anniversary of THE2NDHAND’s first-issue Chicago release party in 2000, Feb. 12. See below for full reading details.

(Zapata’s “White Twilight,” a speculative fictional take of sorts on the first U.S. census to come back with those checking “white” in the race/ethnicity box in a solid minority, is the featured story in THE2NDHAND’s broadsheet No. 35, out now as a sneak peek into the book; also recently released was an installment — broadsheet No. 35.1 — of THE2NDHAND’s mini-broadsheet series featuring Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards,” part of his “Letters of Interest” series, a sort of Lazlo letters for the Internet age. )

Other pledge rewards include, in addition to a copy of the book, THE2NDHAND’s signature bergamot-infused bar by Alabama soap maker The Left Hand (thelefthand.net), several books by contributors and editors (from All Hands On cover designer and past contributor Zach Dodson and contributor Patrick Somerville to THE2NDHAND’s founding editor, Todd Dills) and, among others, packets of 10 and 15 broadsheets spanning the 10-year history of THE2NDHAND packaged in custom-designed and -printed envelopes by Nashville-based wood-block fine-arts printmaker Martin Cadieux. At the highest pledge level, $150, a limited number full boxed sets in packaging likewise printed by Cadieux are available.

For more about THE2NDHAND, visit THE2NDHAND.com and peruse past broadsheets and online-magazine archives. THE2NDHAND’s editor will be sharing previews, likewise, of some of the artwork to be included in All Hands On – Chicago artist Rob Funderburk, formerly THE2NDHAND’s principle designer, is at work on illustrative portraits of special-section writers included, for instance. Some in-process photos of Cadieux’ wood-block-printed envelopes are already available in this blog post from early November by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills. A fact sheet of sorts about the book, its contributors and the history of the broadsheet and online magazine follows. For interviews with any of the writers listed, please contact THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills.

EVENTS (http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html):

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.
@ Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago

*Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor, Chicago experimental writer Marc Baez
*Mairead Case
w/ a graphic novel slideshow
*hip-hop by the Tomorrow Kings (http://empworldwide.com/tomorrowkings)

Also: A special public service announce from Seth Dodson and Kellen Alexander

*House band: Good evening (http://goodeveningmusic.com)

*Hosted by Monsieur Harold Ray (the janitorial-services-type, still-West Virginian v. of T2H coeditor Jacob Knabb) and T2H regular Kate Duva

Saturday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
@ Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland Ave., Nashville, Tenn.

Four days before the end of its Kickstarter.com campaign to raise $2,000 to print its 10th-anniversary anthology, All Hands On, THE2NDHAND’s editors and contributors gather at this event to present new writing and work to be published in the book, with performances by:

*T2H shapeshifting collaborative writing crew of the Pitchfork Battalion

*T2H Louisville, Ky.-based coeditor C.T. Ballentine (whose “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella is featured in its entirety in the All Hands On book)

*Birmingham-based Nadria Tucker, a frequent T2H contributor, with a special section in the book

*Nashville’s own Matt Cahan, whose “Coyote Business,” a short exploring the cultural connections between Mexico and the United States excerpted from his “Straight Commission” novel in progress, via the tale of a group of would-be Mexican migrants and a U.S. chemical salesman

*Susannah Felts, Nashville-based author of the novel This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, Watkins College of Art & Design writing professor and regular contributor to Humanties Tennessee’s Chapter 16 literary website

*Nashville-based Henry Ronan-Daniel

Nashville-based wood-block printmaker Martin Cadieux will be on-hand showcasing his print work for THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter campaign, among other work.


THE2NDHAND KICKSTARTER campaign main page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

VIDEO: A photographic tour through 10 years of THE2NDHAND’s broadsheets, with audio selections from editor C.T. Ballentine’s introduction to All Hands On and more is available via THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter fund drive page or www.youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.


All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:

Some other things that are known:

75: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked or are currently working in the mag’s co-HQ of Chicago.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in West Virginia.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in past co-HQ of Birmingham, Ala., and current co-HQ of Nashville, Tenn.

50: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in Louisville, Ky.

42: Number of total THE2NDHAND broadsheets, including numbered half-issues 6.5, 13.5 and 16.5 and our recent 8.5-by-11-inch mini-sheets for primarily digital distribution, begun with No. 33.1 in January 2010.

Today, THE2NDHAND is:

Editors Todd Dills (Nashville, Tenn.), C.T. Ballentine (Louisville, Ky.), Jacob Knabb (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

Janitors: Rufus Beady, Harold Ray (all over and everywhere)

And many writers

When it began with a launch party Saturday Feb. 12, at 1278 N. Milwaukee, Floor 4, in Chicago, it was:

Editor Todd Dills (Chicago)

Design men Jeremy Bacharach and (now children’s book illustrator) Matt Cordell (matthewcordell.com)

And fewer writers

Between 2002 and 2004, it was:

Editors Todd Dills and Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man Evan Sult (later of band Bound Stems, of Chicago)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2005 and 2007, it was:

Editors Todd Dills, Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago) and C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man (Chicago artist) Rob Funderburk (robfunderburk.com)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2006 and 2009, it was:

Editors Todd Dills (Birmingham, Ala.), C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

And more and more writers

Of those writers:

Contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10
It’s been a long run for THE2NDHAND, the little magazine — not even a magazine in any traditional sense, but rather a broadsheet, perhaps the last periodical on earth to be launched without a prefabbed website to bolster its offset-printed pages (though ‘twas to follow shortly, publishing flash and serial fiction weekly from late 2000 on). We mean: THE2NDHAND is a page. A big one – 11-by-17-inch block of black text peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings, distributed in storefronts first in Chicago, then in an ever-growing list of cities around the U.S…. “New writing,” simply, has been its focus since 2000, when THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills founded the broadsheet working from a crackerbox hole of an apartment in Logan Square, Chicago — small-format has been its watchword physically, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts.

True to form, All Hands On’s front section features new work by Michael Zapata, Nadria Tucker, Jamie Iredell, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Fred Sasaki, Amanda Yskamp, Ben Stein (Amherst, Mass.) and Matt Cahan, as well as a collaborative short by Susannah Felts & Todd Dills and a mini-epic poem (“Chicago”) by Doug Milam.

**Cover design by Featherproof Books’ (and T2H contributor) Zach Dodson
**Illustrations for the lead section by comix artist/cermacist Andrew Davis
**Author illustrations by Chicago artist and T2H occasionaljanitor-in-residence
Rob Funderburk
**Special sections with multiple short stories by Marc Baez, coeditor C.T. Ballentine (including the entirety of his “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella; Ballentine also penned, with copious editorial footnoting by Todd Dills, the book’s introduction), Philip Brunetti, Al Burian (the Burn Collector zine and associated books), Tobias Carroll (“The Scowl” blogger), Spencer Dew (Songs of Insurgency), Kate Duva (cohost of our Chicago “So you think you have nerves of steel?” reading series), David Gianatasio (Mind Games), Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory), Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out), Doug Milam (Still the Confusion), Anne Elizabeth Moore (Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) with comic adaptation by Josh Bayer, Greggory Moore, Kevin O’Cuinn, Heather Palmer, Michael Peck, the Pitchfork Battalion (a collaborative crew with roving membership, including many of those already listed, plus, featured in the book, Sean Carswell, Jim Murphy, Emerson Dameron, John Minichillo, Motke Dapp, and Dominique Holmes), Lauren Pretnar, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Jill Summers, Paul A. Toth (Finale), and Nadria Tucker.

I-65 U.S. Interstate Highway within 40 miles of which 57 percent of all AHO contributors live.

30: Percentage of AHO contributors who live in Chicago.

ABOUT Special section authors in AHO:

Chicago writer Marc Baez’s work first appeared in THE2NDHAND in its second year, with a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart. Part 1 of his most recent, tricornered contribution, published in 2009, is featured here, among others. Baez teaches writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. Baez’s work was also featured in THE2NDHAND’s 2004 All Hands On: A THE2NDHAND Reader, 2000-2004 anthology.

C.T. Ballentine has been an editor with THE2NDHAND since 2007 and a contributor since 2005. Also a sound engineer in various music halls and opera houses, he lives, writes and loves between Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Huntsville, Ala.

Philip Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been contributing to THE2NDHAND since the fall of 2008.

Al Burian wrote the first issue of the Burn Collector zine in the mid-1990s and continues to write it — and much else besides — today. He’s behind a book of the same name collecting previous installments of the zine and Natural Disaster, collecting later work. When not touring with his work, he lives in Berlin, occasionally Chicago and elsewhere.

Tobias Carroll lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y. His work as a book and music critic has been published widely, and his fiction has appeared semi-regularly in THE2NDHAND (since 2007) and other mags. Find more at his indie-culture blog, The Scowl (yourbestguess.com/thescowl).

Spencer Dew, based in Chicago, authored the 2008 “Songs of Insurgency” collection, out from Vagabond Press, and his shorts have appeared in great frequency in many online and print journals, including THE2NDHAND. In 2010 Another New Calligraphy is publishing his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book. Visit spencerdew.com for links to pieces of his prolific online lit presence.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city, where she writes and serves as cohost in THE2NDHAND’s ongoing So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series, first Tuesday of the month at Hungry Brain on Belmont. Other of her work can be found in Fugue and Opium, on Vocalo Radio and at kateduva.blogspot.com.

David Gianatasio is the author of two collections of short stories, most recently 2008’s Mind Games (Word Riot). He’s published prolifically online for years. He lives in Boston, Mass.

Mickey Hess is a professor of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. His work for THE2NDHAND has included serving as progenitor and editor of our FAQ section, and his stories and essays have been published in journals and magazines ranging from Punk Planet and McSweeney’s to more scholarly affairs. He is the author of the memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory and the editor of Greenwood Press’ two-volume Icons of Hip-hop, among other literary and scholarly works.

Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor Joe Meno is the author of several books, including most recently the novel The Great Perhaps (2009), as well as short story collections Demons in the Spring (Akashic) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Northwestern University Press) and the novels The Boy Detective Fails and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, where he lives and writes.

Jonathan Messinger is Time Out Chicago’s books editor and the driving editorial force behind the Chicago-based concerns Featherproof Books and the Dollar Store reading series. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, came out in 2007.

Doug Milam lives and writes in Bellingham, Wash. He is the author of a chapbook of shorts, Still the Confusion, and has been published in a variety of other literary magazines. Visit him at milam.blogsite.org/wordpress.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007), and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People (Soft Skull, 2004). Moore served as associate editor of the now-defunct Punk Planet magazine and was the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. Today, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she’s not traveling the globe speaking on freedom of speech issues.

Greggory Moore is a lifelong southern California resident, freelance journalist and fiction writer and poet.

Kevin O’Cuinn lives in Frankfurt am Main but is originally from Dublin; he coedits fiction for Word Riot.

Heather Palmer lives in Chicago. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines. In 2010 THE2NDHAND serialized her novella, “Charlie’s Train,” at THE2NDHAND.com, parts of which are excerpted in AHO.

Michael Peck, after a time in Philadelphia and with roots deep upstate New York, lives and writes in Missoula, Mont. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Rittenhouse Revue, 34th Parallel and others.

The Pitchfork Battalion is THE2NDHAND’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan or to any collaborative artistic group, really. Typically, we collaborate on a theme, or do individual riffs on a phrase in prose – sometimes poetry, as the case of Jim Murphy’s addition to the 2009 “Extraordinary Rendition” is evidence. In AHO are some of our best. For the lot of them, written at the initial instigation of our FAQ editor and continuing contributor Mickey Hess, from 2005 to the present, visit http://the2ndhand.com/archive/archivepitchfork.html.

Lauren Pretnar lives and writes in Chicago.

Patrick Somerville is the author of a novel, The Cradle, and the Trouble collection of stories (patricksomerville.com). In 2010, his genre-busting The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was released by Featherproof Books. He lives and writes in Chicago.

Jill Summers’ audio fiction has been heard via Chicago Public Radio and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including THE2NDHAND, where she is a continuing contributor.

Paul A. Toth is the author of a triptych of novels — Fizz, Fishnet and Finale — and lives today in Sarasota, Fla., after years in Flint, Mich. Visit www.netpt.tv; Toth also works in multimedia, poetry and nonfiction.

Nadria Tucker hails from Atmore in South Alabama, though she lives and writes in Birmingham.

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THE2NDHAND @ Ala. Book Festival

We’ll be tabling next weekend at the Alabama Book Festival in stodgy yet decidedly artsy-fun Montgomery, the state capitol. If you’ve never been there it’s worth a trip if only to wander around in the weekend-deserted downtown and feel as if a Confederate general visiting a vanquished former capital or to visit one excellently famous Flea Market on the edge of town that’s, yes, very much like a mini mall. Which is, indeed, what I did the last time I was there, passing through on my way to the coast a couple years back. Sammy Stephens, owner of the mall last I heard, is a gracious host.

As for the Festival, I participated last in 2007; last year a coincidental fest in Montevallo an hour or so north where I was scheduled to read kept me away; but in 2007 the general vibe was upbeat, cool, and festive, no doubt.

Visit our events page for details, likewise of the DC/DC Spring Crafts Fair in Tuscaloosa the following day, at which I’ll also be tabling with our latest issue, THE2NDHAND soap by folks at The Left Hand, who’ll also be there, and sundry books. Hope to see you.

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