ahoy chicagoans

To those readers living in the Chicago area: if you’ve reached the point where you feel you can leave your quarantine unit without enduring heart palpitations in order to do some socially distant browsing at one of your local bookshops, my novel A Set of Lines is now available at that fine Chicago institution known as Quimby’s. New stock of Bunker Diaries and Inner Harbor Field Reports has also arrived at the store. Just a heads up that the supply of these two publications is dwindling, and there are no plans for a second printing. As always, thanks for reading and be well.

new print publications

Zines © 2019 Sean Stewart

These are limited print editions of projects originally serialized online.

Bunker Diaries is a fictional journal kept by an unnamed instructor while teaching a cadre of listless trainees in a desert bunker. It was serialized here in Fall 2012 and has been lightly revised for this print edition. It is no longer available online.

Inner Harbor Field Reports is a compendium of observations made during lunchtime walks around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor between 2014 and 2019 (heavier on the early years of that range). It began as notes embedded in rambling blog entries (which is why this print edition seems like it starts in the middle of something, but trust me, you’re not missing out on any needed context). Eventually I decided to streamline it into pure observational bliss and moved it over to Tumblr. I had a good run there, until Tumblr inexplicably extended the long arm of censorship and shut down my site. Attempts at appeal failed and as my interest was already waning, I decided to end it there.

I enjoyed this project while it lasted, though, and so I thought it would be cool to memorialize it with this print edition. The text remains largely untouched, with only minimal corrections and revisions. The ending is somewhat abrupt, much like the beginning, closing on a sole entry from 2019. Although there is a postscript explaining the genesis of the project, the lack of contextual intro and outro is purposeful, for the intent of this document is only to offer a narrow slice of the ongoing continuum that is life at the Inner Harbor.

Available from the following independent bookstores:

Atomic Books: Bunker Diaries | Inner Harbor Field Reports

Quimby’s: Bunker Diaries | Inner Harbor Field Reports

thoughtworm in the library of congress

I recently discovered that an issue of my old zine Thoughtworm is now held by the Library of Congress. Apparently, artist and writer Matt Dembicki, whose comics I dimly remember writing a review of long ago, donated his collection to the library in 2016, and Thoughtworm #11 was included in it. This issue has particular significance to me, as it was the first one I created a linocut for in order to print the covers. Linocut would become my cover design method of choice for the remaining issues of the zine. I also later had the linocut design, which depicts my favorite tree, the American Sycamore, tattooed on my left arm. I made a few extra prints of this one, too, and distributed them to friends. While Thoughtworm has made it into quite a number of public and university libraries over the years, I never thought it would end up in the Library of Congress. Pretty cool.

hatred of writing update

Hatred of Writing is now available at both Atomic Books in Baltimore and Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago. Copies are also still available direct from me through PayPal on the order page. Many thanks to those who’ve already ordered! Your support means a lot.

From the depths of the salt mine comes…Hatred of Writing.


new zine: hatred of writing

Hatred of Writing, © 2018 S. D. Stewart

Now Available: Hatred of Writing

Selected short fiction from the past five years.

Limited to 50 numbered copies

48 pages, digest-sized, hand-lettered cover

Published in October 2018

Available here: Atomic Books, Normals (in-store only), and Quimby’s.

zine review: cul-de-sac #7

Cul-de-sac #7
The Adult Geek Issue
by Liz Mason & Julie Halpern

I’ve known Liz Mason through zines for many years, probably since I first began selling my zine Thoughtworm on consignment through Quimby’s in Chicago in the early 2000s. We traded zines, too, and I always enjoyed reading hers, both her own perzine Caboose, and the zine Cul-de-sac which she co-publishes with her friend Julie Halpern. Zine time can be very slow, though. It had been 20 years since the last issue of Cul-de-sac appeared! So when I heard there was a new one out, I was really looking forward to it.

As someone who hasn’t been reading perzines lately, it was interesting to read one written by two people close to my own age (that is, a bit older than most people I know of who tend to write perzines). This new issue, subtitled ‘The Adult Geek Issue’, addresses the shifts in one’s milieu associated with aging, though not always at a straight angle.  Liz and Julie take turns penning essays on topics ranging from the light-hearted (changing taste in pop culture, celebrity encounters both direct and indirect, love of the television series Ancient Aliens) to the more thoughtful and serious (the regrettable disintegration of one’s D&D group, the experience of feeling like a square peg in round subcultural holes, a personal history of miscarriages).

Two of Liz’s essays particulary resonated with me. The first is one in which she discusses how she has never felt like she fit in with any subculture (be it punk, geek, zinester, etc.), despite her best efforts. Her point that ‘when you start to identify with the idiosyncrasies of what makes you you, you have to exist outside the group’ is an insightful one. In order to make peace with one’s status as an individualist, one must eventually learn to accept this somewhat bitter truth. The other essay of Liz’s that struck me was a rather rambling one titled, in part, ‘It Is Normal to Have a Shitty Time at the Party.’ In it, Liz hits on topics such as aging, personal identity, what it means to leave a legacy, and the importance of making honest human connections. This essay, like much of Liz’s zine writing, is funny, pensive, poignant, and pleasantly digressive all at once.

I suspect that many people approaching middle age who have struggled to fit in, lurked around on the fringes of society, however you want to phrase it, will find something relatable in this zine. And it’s been a fine reminder to me of that special type of raw, open writing I often find in zines that I so rarely encounter anywhere else.

Cul-de-sac #7 is available through Quimby’s, both in-store and online. Or you could go the old-fashioned route and mail $3 to: PO Box 477553, Chicago, IL 60647.

another review of rain crow

A new review of Rain Crow straight from the pages of the most excellent Razorcake, the only official non-profit DIY punk rock fanzine in the USA. If you like the punk rock, why don’t you have a subscription, huh. (Note: Razorcake is a PRINT magazine, with actual pages that you turn with your fingers. The reviews are also posted on their website.)

(Thanks, Todd!)

first review of rain crow

Rain Crow received its first review last week at DJ Frederick’s excellent site One Minute Cassette Reviews. His description of me writing ‘like an alchemist’ is a good reminder that… I must return soon to my laboratory.

If you have some time, I recommend poking around among DJ Frederick’s many other projects, including his various radio shows (my favorite so far is his folk show Night Train to Mundo Fine), links to all of which can be found at his Cottage Industry site.

rain crow has landed

rain crows

Printing in progress!

After a five-year hiatus, I made a new zine. This manuscript was first conceived for a chapbook contest that I did not win. Rather than continue to run hither and thither for possibly years on end with Rain Crow clenched in my clackity-clack claws, prostrating myself before the micro-press literati, I decided to publish it myself, just like I have always done. Regarding the content, it has all appeared here in this space in one form or another. So, it’s possible regular readers may not be interested. However, in its defense, it does feature illustrations and a handmade cover. Reading words in print has also been proven to cause less eye strain than reading them on screen, according to an unscientific study conducted by a known “damned bastard of a cloud-monger” (Baudelaire’s words, not mine).

Orders can be placed through PayPal (from this page) or by old-fashioned cash through the post (if anyone does that anymore). I am also open to TRADES. While I hope to recoup at least some of my printing and postage costs, I am definitely interested if you have something to barter in exchange. This can be artwork, writing, music, or any other kind of creative eruption. It does not have to be a zine. It can be some hand-scrawled poems you wrote while waiting for the bus. In fact, that might even be better than a zine.

If you want to send a trade (or cash), send me a message so we can trade addresses.

Order by PayPal here. If you have a color preference from the photo above, please make note of it in the order form. All colors are limited and others are yet to be printed, so there are no guarantees, but I’ll do my best.

SOLD OUT! Maybe check Quimby’s.

hold this empty box

Tonight I watched Box of Moonlight. I cannot believe it took me so long to find this film [thanks to a respected Goodreads user for mentioning it in a comment thread]. It came out in 1996, while I was deep into my cultural blackout period. Lord knows what else I missed during that time. But I wouldn’t trade those halcyon days of shooting pellet guns at the abandoned van in the gravel parking lot of my hut down by the river. Or maybe I would. Depends on the price. Regardless, it’s all part of who I am now. When you watch a film from 1996 on DVD, the movie starts right up without any previews or pushing any buttons on the remote. It’s nice. I like John Turturro and Sam Rockwell and Catherine Keener. They are all good people in the movies. This is a film that the orbs would hate. Only strange people like films like this. People are smart in different ways. I wish this was universally understood. One person can’t know everything. People think in different ways. This leads to exceptional behavior in one avenue for one person, and a different avenue for another person. What this means is we each can learn from another, from anyone. People are so hard on themselves. It’s unnecessary. We can only do the best that we can.

So there’s this zine called Miranda and the editor, Kate Haas, writes a regular column in it called “Motel of Lost Companions,” where in each issue she spotlights some person from her past she’s no longer in touch with and talks about the significance of this person in her life at the time. This has always resonated with me, for my past is littered with lost companions. Where they all are now is anyone’s guess. I suppose I could get a Facebook account and try to find them, but what would be the point. Likely to be a depressing and futile exercise. I’m sure most are married with kids now…so boring and predictable. Although I suspect some of them aren’t even on Facebook at all. Some of them are probably living desperate lives in basements or roominghouses, struggling to get by and largely failing. Those are the ones I’d probably like to have a conversation with but could never find.

The current moon phase is 47% of full. I hate the internet for telling me that. It would be a tough night to gather moonlight in a box, especially in the city. When I went out, the air felt cool and clean at least. I thought about lost companions and the few that still remain. I thought about Joy Division’s song “In A Lonely Place” and how it haunts me. It’s tied to someone lost, then found, now in limbo. The needle on the vinyl in that room so long ago, caressing the marble and stone, the blinds drawn against our futures.

There are lost companions everywhere, some of them lost before they’re even found. And we’ll never meet because the world is so big. I guess that’s okay, although it sometimes still bothers me. We are all of us in lonely places, after all, but the ones inside us we cannot leave.

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