INTERVIEW: JOSH RAAB OF theNewerYork

By LA CANVAS
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WRITE MY WORDS, ndsıpǝ poʍu, punoɹɐ llɐ, and srawkcab (UPSIDE DOWN, ALL AROUND, and BACKWARDS); communicate words with a different aesthetic. That’s exactly what JOSH RAAB set out to do in publishing theNewerYork. theNewerYork is a explorative platform for experimental format to communicate innovative literature and art, set to launch it’s 3rd annual issue at it’s interactive performance feast, The Literary Carnival III. Artfully refined and designed, the new issue brings another collection of curated stories and art with the purpose of exposing a revolution in the short narrative. We spoke with Raab to give us insight into what makes Al∂®mîng L®å†u®£.

 

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LAC: You want writers to be daring. How would you suggest they do so?

JR: Start with form first, content second. Instead of being inspired to write a story about a girl or an event, start with what literary form you will write in. For instance, I’m going to write a story in the form of a Craigslist ad, a bar tab, a kid’s book report, a legal contract, and so on. And within the form you choose, try and fit in a narrative and a story. Not only does choosing a literary form beforehand make the writing process easier but it can often lead to a more dynamic, expressive, and beautiful story than a standard poem or short story.

LAC: What are some literary trends that you have seen that are overdone?

JR: The book or poetry reading is perhaps the most unfortunate literary trend. You read some lovely lines, a wonderful, mysteriously beautiful story in the privacy of your own room and then suddenly you’re in a public place watching the sad, sap who wrote it inanimately mumble it into a microphone. Snore fest, this is the most unoriginal and overdone way to promote a good story. Hence theNewerYork’s Literary Carnival. 

LAC: Who are some daring writers in Los Angeles that we should be keeping an eye out for and why?

JR: Pretty sure he is from LA: PrintedInternet.tumblr.com is some of the weirdest, prettiest, coolest story telling you will ever see. He prints out popular websites, edits them, and then pastes them back together to tell stories. 

Mark Z. Danielewski because he has been at it for 30 years and he shows no signs of slowing down. His work doesn’t always succeed, which is a hallmark of being a daring writer. His work is fantastic.

Heiko Julien (who is in Book III of theNewerYork) because he plays with crazy forms (lots of Facebook stories) and does so without being as cynical  and snide as much of the Alt Lit out there. 

 

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LAC: What is the power of short literary forms?

JR: Short forms can experimental without being obtuse. Instead of a 200 page essay about the psychology of aardvarks that only 6 people will ever finish; you can have a 2 page piece on the psychology of aardvarks that thousands of people will make it through and enjoy. In short, you don’t have enough room to bore the reader.

LAC: What about Los Angeles makes it a unique backdrop for what theNewerYork is doing?

JR: As far as I can tell the literary scene is disorganized and shapeless. You all have Literary Death Match but I went to my first the other day and it was a superficial joke of socialite tomfoolery. You have the Moth but I’m not so sure that is literary. You have Zine Fest but that isn’t distinctly literary or experimental either, it’s just a trade show. As far as I can tell, there are no events like The Literary Carnival.

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Los Angeles is a huge, popular city, that, unlike New York City, is not saturated with books and publishing. Pardon the cliche, but it seems to be the wild wild West of literary publishing. We are excited to set up shop here because there is a whole population of writers and readers who want badly to find literary community. We can experiment, grow, and be free in Los Angeles without the pressures of nostalgia and institution that stunt places like New York. Hence, theNewerYork.

LAC: What has inspired you, personally, to be a daring writer?

JR: Personally, I’m not the most daring writer. I can write a good flash-fiction from time to time but in creating and editing theNewerYork I see myself as building a stage for better more seasoned writers. The more important question is what inspired me to be a daring publisher.  Working at a couple large publishers in New York City I became insanely critical of everything they did: from their deals with authors, to publicity, to content, to printing, to aesthetic, etc etc. I found it all old and whiny and this inspired me to stand up and change it.

Catch Raab and other Newer Yorkers this Saturday, August 24th, at theNewerYork Literary Carnival at the Lyric-Hyperion Theatre & Cafe.

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Pictures Via the Newer York, Kickstarter, and Coolhunting

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