Explosion-Proof is a magazine of arts and letters, published four times a year in Brooklyn. Somewhat emphatically, it is only “produced” in print form. It features essays, reportage, poetry, graphic narratives, short stories, plays, cartoons, polemics, drawings and various other miscellaneous items.
In December 2010, Ex-P launched with $6,005 (thank you, Kickstarter!). Its premier issue was introduced by the following note:
We launch this magazine in the face of a great tragedy: the rise of a new generation. You have seen them: in headphones at concerts, made-up on treadmills, slurring fond memories of last year’s television; a whole generation dedicated to the pursuit of Happy Hour and air-brushed romance. Many times before has such frivolity arisen from corporeal privilege and immaterial neglect, but never in history have the young people sang and danced with such desire, such need, for literal head pats.
Explosion-Proof is not a blog, as we hate blogs. It is not an Internet magazine, as we don’t believe the screen is the best home for the serious rumination that good writing demands. We are aware of the shortcomings of dead-tree publishing. It will be expensive. It will limit our readership.
We remind those who feel these are two insurmountable obstacles that books, the kind held in hand and laid on shelves, may not travel the speed of light, but neither do they disappear when plugs are pulled. And, we guarantee, neither do they explode.
It’s a dream to be shared by all those who hunger for an essay that won’t be dated in 24 hours. It’s for those who don’t call writing “content.” It is for those who remember that no wise man ever built his house on sand.
We are afraid for our generation. We see them, in crowds and in mirrors: an incensed but unfighting mob; a school of fish in a poisoned sea who cannot recognize water.
But, alas, with all maps filled, whoever hoped for explorers?
[Given our common and immediate setting, Reader, we might now add a supplement:]
PS: Yes, you are reading this on the Internet—in fact you are reading it on our blog. No, you will not find much content here. “Ah duh-huh,” as they say.
This represents the sum total of the parameters those signees had in mind for the magazine. From its inception, there have been pointedly no editorial prerogatives of style, school or genre; and certainly none of position. So long as a work is lovely or smart (or else appealingly crass), we will do what we can to help it enter the world.
But if such is the extent of our ambition, it reiterates our founding concern: that the contemporary zeitgeist is fast losing the critical faculties necessary to discriminate the most basic distinctions of reality. Simply put, books “exist” in a decidedly different manner than do the Internet and its copy. As indicated by the Platonic capital, all that dwells on the screen (behind the screen?) occupies a different plane of reality than the book—at any rate, some place other than the physical.
Wherever the Internet is, we cannot say. Speaking strictly in a professional capacity, we reckon surreality to be a pretty inappropriate aspiration for builders-of-periodicals. Such a task is better suited for, you know, artists. Moreover, to parade a dull truth: every single lover-of-letters would prefer reading a book to surfing a gadget. As should be utterly unnecessary to add (but, naturally, is not): every single publisher has a choice of precisely the medium in which they work. It is puzzling that so few seem to demonstrate an allegiance so common, true and benign.
As such, it is our modest policy to simply be. Really.
With the 5th Issue (“Homeland Insecurity”) arriving in late January, 2012, Ex-P began its second functional year. Thus far, we have been honored to present the prose, verse, correspondences and conversations of Samuel Amadon, Stephen Burt, Michael Chabon, Matthew Dickman, Thomas Doyle, Stephen Elliott, Rivka Galchen, Keith Gessen, John Hennessy, Ben Lerner, Ben Paloff, Ben Mirov, Mona Simpon, Lonnie Thompson, Justin Torres, Deb Olin Unferth, Sylvia Watanabe, Charles Yu, Matthew Zapruder, as well as many, many others.
We are further grateful to friends, fans and bands who graciously appeared at any of last year’s readings, panel discussions and/or dance parties at the New York Public Library, Fowler Art Collective, D.B.A and Lolita’s.
Perhaps owing to such generous support, we can happily and with some relief report on the progress of our distribution. From our introductory methodology of backpacks and glad-handing, shameless conscription of unwitting friends-in-other-cities (into an utterly unmercenary salesforce), and merciless, merciless harassment of innocent clerks by cold-call, we have graduated to international representation by Ingram. (Note to booksellers: that’s where to find us!)
For the sake of ease, Ex-P can be purchased through our site and nationally at Barnes & Noble outlets; it is also stocked by many locally catering, independently owned bookstores. (See “Buy” for partial listing — complete indie store directory forthcoming.)