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Nemonymous, #1
nemonymous, one
According to their web site:
"Nemonymous is a paying market for stories. It the first one that ever allowed anonymous email submissions beyond the point of final acceptance or rejection. Writers who are members of Veils & Piques may also ask to borrow a copy of Nemonymous Part One, before they submit a story for consideration.

The contact point for orders is

Nemonymous Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Soyka

The gimmick here is that the sixteen authors in this quirky -- in both content and format (bound as it is in the shape of car owner's manual) -- publication are anonymous, at least until the next volume arrives in which their identities are revealed. (Not having seen the current second volume, they remain anonymous to me as I write this.) Even the editor is anonymous, although it has been reported in other venues that it is the British fiction writer D.F. Lewis.

Hence the name, nemonymous, though I confess I'm not sure what the substitution of "nem" for "an" is supposed to mean. Equally bizarre is the subtitle, "a journal of parthenogenetic fiction and late labelling." The "late labelling" part is obvious enough, though I don't know why it's spelled with two "l's" -- maybe it's British usage. But "parthenogentic" is reproduction that doesn't require both sexes, literally virgin birth. Now, what the hell is that supposed to mean? That we as readers are looking at this body of work without any preconceptions because we don't know their identity? Well, maybe, though it strikes me as perhaps a bit too contrived, which is also a criticism I could make of some of the fiction. Which, too, is perhaps the point.

Actually, calling this a "gimmick" is perhaps unfair. The tale should stand on its own merits, without prejudices readers bring to an author's work. There's none of that, "Oh, he should stick to writing what he's done before," or "What can a man know about writing from a woman's perspective," or, "I never liked her stuff before, so I'm just going to skip ahead to the next story." Then there's the famous ruse of a few years ago in which Doris Lessing submitted a novel under an assumed name that every major publisher rejected (although whether that is more a comment on the state of publishing or Lessing's talent I'm not clear about).

One of the better stories here, "Double Zero for Emptiness," could be based on Stephen King's unfortunate encounter with a moving vehicle. For one reason or another, I've never read much King, so I wouldn't even begin to guess whether this was actually some thinly disguised autobiography. I might be disappointed to find out that it was. I'm not sure whether that proves or disproves the point of the exercise. Part of the intent of many of these stories, I think, is to leave you in that state of unsurity from which interesting questions, if not the answers, arise.

Other contributions of note include "The Friends of Mike Santini," a roman à clef of the Rat Pack in which a Sinatra-like singer holds sway over his cronies with a power that goes beyond just a powerful personality. In "With Arms Outstretched," a husband literally sits on his wife to allow him his extramarital pleasures; along similar lines, "Breaking Rules," concerns a plate smashing contest between a middle-aged wife and her husband's much younger girlfriend, with the winner getting not quite the expected prize. "The Gravedigger," in which the aforementioned's profession proves that getting even is only a matter of time and, in a related theme, "The Idiot Whistled Dead," where revenge does not quite work out as well. Keeping with the setting, "Gamlingay Churchyard" contemplates the actual existence that is otherwise only implied by the dates carved into the tombstones. "All for Nothing" concerns a lost husband and the loss of the pet meant to replace him, and a pair of nitwits who attempt to cash in on the reward with an unusual substitution.

None of these are stories in the conventional sense of plots and dialogue. Some don't rise much above vignette, some, such as "The Mansions of the Moon," are meant as parables about the human comedy, all are grounded in generating a sense of the surreal. Just to drive that point home, the conclusion of a tale is sometimes followed by an epigraph from Poe or Beckett or Woolf; one of my favorites is from Philip Larkin: "Nothing, like something, happens anywhere."

Even if you might wonder whether what's going on isn't much more than a sketch, the language itself is often sufficiently powerful to carry you along. Take, for example, this description from "Balafar De Vie":

As in a dream, slippers alighting on the wood like twin butterflies, did she appear dancing around false graves, mounded in grass shredded from ribbons. Again, burdened with gauzy mothlike wings, she drifted over waves of blue paper. Then did I sink into ecstasy with a thousand other earthbound creatures, thighs despairing of finding comfort from tapestried seats, like one vast animal yearning to ravish its prey.
Perhaps the most apt summary of this publication is the quotation that ends this volume from, fittingly, Anonymous:

"Anyone who isn't confused here doesn't really understand what is going on."

Copyright © 2002 David Soyka

David Soyka is a former journalist and college teacher who writes the occasional short story and freelance article. He makes a living writing corporate marketing communications, which is a kind of fiction without the art.

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