Theme - Doppelganger

Reviewed by Terry Grimwood

Energy. That is what comes off the Sein und Werden print version Issue 2, the doppelganger issue in which many of its stories fair crackle with the stuff. Even the magazine itself, the cover, the paper, the slightly rough-edged feel of the thing gives off a sense of immediacy, of you must read this now!

For me the stories fell into two categories, which is probably unfair but that's how my mind works. You have the more conventional narrative style tales and then those which are harder to define. The first of the “easier” stories is a tour de force called Re: by Fabian Delecto. It's a cracking yarn that paints a noir-ish future (or alternative present--who knows?) in which humans accumulate debt for simply living. It is closely followed by The Anti-Self by Ian Shoebridge which explores the concept of the real self as the protagonist struggles with his relationship with his doppelganger. An entertaining story but spoiled by the penultimate paragraph which breaks into the narrative with an essay on the idea of the opposing elements of self. An example of the “harder” works, The Third Person by Marc Lowe is an interesting, intricately worked out, though ultimately irritating, exercise in identity and obsession with numbers.

Other high points are the grisly but immensely satisfying Praying for the Dead by D Harlan Wilson and Pig on the Beach by Mark Howard Jones. The first taking a look at care of the obese, although care isn't the best word for the horrible goings on at that particular nursing home. The latter is a hallucinatory tale of a relationship break up and attempted escape.

This issue carries part two of a serial, Keeping Angels by Cameron Pierce. I have to confess that it left me completely bewildered and its quirky, quick fire and often disjointed conversation was, for the most part meaningless. This is probably unfair since it was part two of four, but surely a good serial should enable the reader to pick up on what constitutes its storyline reasonably quickly.

There's poetry aplenty, again, always inventive, all of it immediate and a good deal of it raw and brutal. My favourites are Bone by Daniel Y Harris, which is a single, beautifully visceral sentence in which image builds on image in a cry that led me (poetry is always subjective!) through a complaint of disappointed love to its tragic conclusion. J E Stanley's Renegade Soul is my other pick of the poetry, a critique of his own soul, blackly humorous and a valid argument for it existence as a far more interesting core of life than “25 watts of errant electricity passing through synapses”.

For me, the masterpiece of the collection is The Rape by Ralph Robert Moore, a multi-viewpoint--in every sense of the word--examination of an apparent rape (or is it) that sizzles with tension and inventiveness.

Original, raw, bold, Sein und WerdenVol1 #2 has all the refreshing variety, devil-may-care, what-the-hellishness and fire that a good Independent Press publication should possess. It is patchy, some of it brilliant, some of it working, some of it irritating, some of it incomprehensible, but always compelling. Long may it run.

Sein Und Werden edited by Rachel Kendall and Spyros Heniadis. A5, 60pp, £3.50/$6.50 or £14/$26 for 4 issues (for postal addresses in UK and US, and for payment options see website).

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