Stack’s back

by Steve Watson in September 2009
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You might have noticed that it’s been eerily quiet on the Stack blog recently. Sorry about that. I’ve been away on honeymoon in California, something I was tempted to blog about but didn’t, partly because you probably don’t care where I am in the world and partly because I didn’t want you to burgle my house. I’m back in London now, though, so normal service is resumed, except there won’t be a Stack email this month because I haven’t written enough posts in the last few weeks to warrant it.

There are lots of things on my list to write about, starting with Zoetrope, an excellent magazine published by Francis Ford Coppola. I found it while browsing in City Lights, the San Francisco bookshop famous for its association with the beat poets and well worth a visit for its extensive selection of literary magazines and little nooks filled with zines and pamphlets.

We’d just eaten some pretty magnificent gnocchi in Cafe Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola’s nearby restaurant, and it struck me as an odd coincidence to see a magazine with the same name as the place I’d just eaten in, but it wasn’t until I got it home that I noticed Coppola’s name on the masthead (and on the contents – he’s included a prose excerpt from his new film Tetro in the current issue).

Just like the restaurant (and the wine we drank there, produced by Coppola’s vineyards), Zoetrope is a top quality product. Its strapline is ‘all-story’ and the bulk of the magazine is made up of compelling little short stories and character portraits that are a real delight to read. Twice now since I’ve been home I’ve walked off the tube bumping into people because I didn’t want to stop reading until I got to the end of a story.

There’s a submissions guide at the front of the magazine stating that all published stories must give over first serial rights and a one-year film option, which strikes me as brilliantly joined up thinking by Coppola and provides further evidence (after the gnocchi, the wine and the films) of his genius.

Aside from the stories there are strange, almost haunting illustrations and photographs, the two occasionally combining as on the cover image (see detail above).

It’s a slim magazine made even slimmer by the very light paper stock often used in American magazines, but it’s absolutely fascinating, and rest assured I’ll be contacting Mr. Coppola’s ‘people’ as soon as possible to see whether we can find a way for it to be part of Stack. Watch this space for news.

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