As has been said in this space repeatedly in the last few weeks, there are no great literary journals in Seattle, but I am nothing if not an optimist, which is how I ended up at the Rendezvous's JewelBox Theater on Sunday evening. I was invited to the reading of the new issue of KNOCK by KNOCK's editor, Bryan Tomasovich, who began a long e-mail to me with, "Hey, this is about your recent articles about literary magazines in Seattle, and the reactions to [your articles], but I'm not writing to give you shit or any such." Tomasovich gave me the details of the event ("Starts at 6:30 p.m. with a great, seven-piece jazz/funk band... Then we kick in with readings and performances from our local contributors...") and wrote, "And I'd like to see you there 'cause I've not met you, 'cause you seemingly don't even know about KNOCK (or you do and are discounting us), and 'cause just maybe if you get to know what we're up to, you might be able to help KNOCK grow into the kind of magazine you're seeking, based on what I'm hearing in your articles."
I am not an EMT. I know nothing about resuscitation. And I have no interest in being called in to defibrillate a flat-lining literary journal. (A huge percentage of the mail I've gotten about my columns on Seattle literary journals has been from editors of Seattle literary journals, some of whom, for instance the editor of Rivet, would have me believe that I am part of the problem because I am not helping them edit their journals, to which I say: You're the freakin' editor.) But the truth is, KNOCK has a few things going for it that other Seattle journals don't. Like Rivet, KNOCK is funded by a larger institution (Antioch University Seattle), but unlike Rivet, the "risky," "weird" stuff in KNOCK is actually somewhat risky and weird. Online, where some of KNOCK's content is available, I read an excerpt from a memoir-in-progress by Tom Hansen, a former heroin addict, former drug dealer, and burn victim, called "Please Remove Your Skin"; a piece by Kristie Fleming about all the raunchy shit she wants a football team to do to her; and some fantastic sentences by John Olson, including "Television refrigerates children." I love John Olson.
However, I didn't love the seven-piece jazz/funk band Tomasovich hired to start off Sunday's event, and after it was announced that they would continue playing for at least another half hour before the readings began, I bolted. (On my way out, Tomasovich told me he preferred a relaxed pace for his events and expected this one to last until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.; in other words about four hours. Luckily, I had tickets at On the Boards at 8:00 p.m.) On my way out, I met Tom Hansen, who's written 90 pages of his memoir ("I don't want to do any feel-good recovery story; it's going to be extreme cynicism") and got a copy of KNOCK. It's a lot worse in the physical than it is online. Sans-serif fonts, awful graphics, general badness. Dishearteningly, it's exactly what you would expect.