The other day I pulled my copy of Going Down Swinging #33 out from my sock drawer. I’m not sure why, but it’s where most of my treasured books live – my notebooks, my travel diaries, my Alejandro Zambras before I lent them to a boy whom I will probably never see again. I have a habit of exchanging books right before it all falls apart. My last lover lent me Houellebecq’s Atomised before I washed my sheets of him. But that’s another story for another time.
With over a year now gone since we sent No. 33 to print, I opened the issue and read the words we’d nursed and groomed and loved for the best part of 2012 almost as if for the first time. It was a real treat to laugh over again at Eric Dando, to feel like fainting or vomiting or both at Michael Trudeau, to feel my breath catch over familiar phrases made new by the passing of time.
We’re the lucky ones, us editors: we’re trusted with the words people choose. We’re gifted them to use in our jigsaw puzzle, and we often can’t see the image until every piece is in place. But we have a knack for shape; we know what fits and where.
It’s the middle of November now, and we’re still wearing long sleeves, and our 35th issue is almost ready to go to print. We started working on it over six months ago. We’d just launched the all-digital 34th issue, and winter was setting in. Geoff wrapped me up in his Wallabies scarf after the launch party, in those strange hours that aren’t night anymore but not yet morning either, and we probably high-fived before he tipped the melted ice from the eskies into the flowerbeds beneath the porch, before I got in a cab and for those few hours of sleep ceased thinking about other people’s writing.
The process of creating an issue has been different this year. We have editors based in three states and on opposite coasts, and for a few months Geoff was in England covering the Ashes. So most of our arguments took place over the internet, and we were poor at meeting deadlines (but missing them and creating chaos seems to be our forte). We said things to each other like, “I think we can all agree that bananas are funny, and therefore ‘Bananas’ is a funny poem.” And everything seemed to slow down a little when we read something we each knew was brilliant.
I have a habit of exchanging books right before it all falls apart.
We found our pieces and we put them in place. We’ve got stories of Pavlichenko, the most successful female sniper in history; of a Japanese whaler losing himself at sea; of psychedelic drugs at funerals; of people who believe they’re mythical creatures trapped in human bodies; of the lonely stretches of American highways.
Once again Stuart Hall and Elise Santangelo of design studio Holiday are wrapping up the pieces. We met them over jugs at Fitzroy’s Napier Hotel long before we knew what shape this thing would take and talked about binding and being forced to smoke brutally strong cigarettes by a non-English-speaking Frenchman in the Alsatian countryside.
Stuart and Elise are integral to what we do; we trust them to create the look and feel of the newest additions to this publication’s lineage. We’ve also commissioned artist Darren Song to work his embroidery magic using vintage issues of Going Down Swinging as his canvas, which will then be reproduced in the pages of #35.
I can start to see it now. It’s almost ready.
Katia Pase is the co-editor of Going Down Swinging.