A beautifully produced literary magazine, Somesuch Stories only publishes one issue per year, and I was delighted to send the 2022 edition out as our June delivery to Stack subscribers. The theme for this one is ‘Flux’, and notions of flow and change can be traced throughout the issue.
The only time it’s referenced directly is in the introduction to Anya Gorkova’s Nothing (above), which frames flux as, “perpetual cycles of production and consumption”. It’s a counterintuitive definition, presenting constant change as the thing that actually prevents us from making a more substantial break from the status quo of capitalist consumption, and the stark simplicity of the artworks seems to challenge the viewer to look beyond their normal frame of reference and, “Allow nothingness”.
A more conventional sense of flux is seen across a trio of stories that show women looking back on their lives and using place to reflect on the ways they have changed over the years. In Everything is Treasure and Nothing is Dead, the narrator returns to a Mexican island she had previously visited as a teenager, and is struck by how different the experience is with her child and mother in tow. The unnamed narrator in Horses leaves her hometown and heads off to the city for an ostensibly glamorous job at a fashion magazine, but finds herself battling her “animal” and yearning for home. While in Homecoming, Imagined Miranda Ward writes about the impossibility of ever really returning to a place, even as she dreams about going back to her native California.
All three of those stories are about the steady, ongoing challenge of holding onto a coherent identity as the world changes around us, but in other places devices like astrology and magic mushrooms are used to create a more disruptive break from the everyday ebb and flow of life.
The stories themselves are also broken up by Isa Toledo’s handwritten quotes (above), which pepper the pages, stopping the reader in apparently random places with snatches of text taken from other stories.
She also created the index at the back of the magazine (above), which again breaks away from any simple structure, and I loved puzzling over the significance of the words she has pulled out, and the non-alphabetical, non-sequential order she presents them in.
The cover image is taken from Elio Mercer’s series of paintings, showing muscular, maybe slightly sunburned male torsos at play. Seen on its own as a cover image it’s not clear how it fits the overarching theme of the issue, but the text that accompanies the images (above) introduces the notion of gender fluidity, encouraging the reader to question their assumptions about the faceless bodies on the page.
The result is a brilliantly playful and emotionally powerful magazine that I haven’t properly stopped reading yet – sitting on my bedside table, I keep on coming back to it and finding new details to enjoy.