Once a week, for roughly the past four months, I have picked up my mail to discover a postcard from someone I don’t know, featuring photographs of places I am unlikely to visit: private basements, anonymous freeway underpasses and beach scenes that feature the bodies of lifeless birds. Each sequence of four cards (which take a month to collect) makes up a story – written in poetry, or as a series of anecdotes, covering a variety of fictional topics (at least I think they’re fictional).
This is the unusually tiny new literary magazine called Abe’s Penny. Produced by the Brooklyn-based sister team of Anna and Tess Knoebel, the magazine pairs the work of a photographer or artist with the words of a writer. The most recent series – my favorite out of the ones I’ve received – is written by Mike Sacks, with photographs by Richard Gin (shown above), chronicling the travails of an illegal concert series held in a private home.
“First of all,” writes an earnest voice in Vol. 1.5.3, “I want to apologize to the Ayalde family for the gas-tank explosion. In fact, I want to apologize to all of you who many not be entirely happy with my twice-a-month music festival.” Reports another: “Yeah, I know, I know. You’re upset with the smashed windows, the fires in your backyards, the backed-up Port-A-Johns, and the rest, but (at the very least) let’s give this thing a chance, shall we?” I chuckled every time I found one of these in the mail.
For someone like me, who is tormented by the stacks of unread New Yorkers that serve as doorstops around my house, Abe’s Penny is a rare treat. Short, poignant stories told in “Twitteresque character limits” (to borrow a phrase from VenusZine) that arrive in my mail when I least expect them – something to look forward to amid all the bills.
A subscription to Abe’s is $48 for six months — roughly the equivalent of 14.72 grande lattes at Starbucks (as the Knoebel sisters so helpfully put it in their latest subscription missive). You can sign up here.