Starting a new print magazine amid all the death-of-print bells tolling is a risky business venture, to put it mildly, especially if this magazine is the literary kind. Unless, that is, you’re a much-hyped communications and social media agency, like Crown Heights-based Praytell Strategy, which can afford not only to launch a new print publication featuring fiction and poetry from local unknowns, but to donate all proceeds from said magazine to charity.
Radiator, launched last week at Housing Works bookstore, is Brooklyn’s newest biannual literary journal, intended to be a platform for both established and never-before-published writers in Brooklyn. Currently sold for $10 a copy in Housing Works bookstores, 100% of proceeds go to homelessness and AIDS-related charities.
“Often in the social media world, there’s this fixation on 140-character kind of stuff,” Andy Pray, founder of Praytell Strategy, says in a phone interview. “I recently heard some social blowhard say, ‘Anything over 140 characters is dead.’ It made me want to throw up.” So he started Radiator, a “passion project,” as a way of bringing some meatier writing into this climate of literary snack food. As publishers and writers look for ways to stall the death of print, Radiator’s model offers one rare example of how digital agencies, usually considered a threat to print and non-bite-sized literature, can actually fund and fuel it.
“It’s nice to take a step back and breathe and embrace writing we love, writing that’s much more than 140 characters, not to get up in the insanity of modern marketing,” Pray says. His agency is staffed with many former editors and writers who care about books and the Brooklyn literary world, but who discovered, like many former English majors, that these passions rarely pay the bills.
Radiator’s first issue includes debut flash fiction by Chris Messer, who won Radiator’s flash fiction contest (prize money = $500), judged by Josh Feldman, author of The Book of Jonah. It also includes a humor piece about John Mayer by Christine Friar, who works for The Tonight Show; poems about being a bike messenger; and a short story about a beard, “with just the right amount of irony and self-awareness,” Pray says.
The submissions page for the next issue will be up soon. “Any local writers with big ideas and a strong voice is of interest,” Pray says. “Praytell didn’t exist a few years ago, so we love wildcards and up and comers.”
Here, a flash fiction excerpt from the first issue of Radiator, available at Housing Works.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, by Celia Laskey
So how do you know Sam? Do you want to get out of here? What’s your gchat? What kind of music do you like? How do you like your bananas? What’s your phone number? Do you watch the L word? Are you joking? How do I get to your place? Do you like cats? What’s your roommate’s name, again? What are you doing? How did you sleep? What do you mean? Are you out to your parents?
Do you want to have a sleepover? What do you want for breakfast? Does this shirt make me look like a butch? You really think they have no idea? Did your friends like me? Do you like my new bra? What are you thinking? Can I leave this toothbrush here? Do you want to go to the thai place? So, do you want to be girlfriends or something?
Where do you want to sleep tonight? What do you feel like for dinner? Did you brush your teeth today? Will you give me a backrub? Is your roommate home? What do you want me to do about it? What do you want to watch? Do you want to go, or would you rather stay home? Are you getting your period? When’s your lease up, again? One or two bedrooms?
What should we make for dinner? So they think I’m just your roommate? Did you fart? Are the cats in or out? Will you clean the bathroom this time? What are you thinking? What’s wrong? Have the cats been fed? Where are you? You’re never going to tell them, are you? What job? Where is it? Will you come with me?
What did you have for dinner? Who did you go with? Did you buy your ticket yet? What are you doing today? Is it raining there? How was work? Do you miss me? Are you wearing the lacy bra? Have you talked to them yet? How did you sleep? Did you read that article I sent you? How are the kitties? Are you coming or not?
What do you think? What am I supposed to do? Is this really what you want? What about the cats? Will I see you? Will you send it to me? So that’s it?
All photos courtesy Praytell Strategy.
Follow Carey Dunne on Twitter @CareyDunne