My new favorite thing to do is to drop by Barnes & Noble downtown and examine their magazine collection. I often buy or one two things I don’t typically read, and then read them while the magazines I subscribe to pile up in my mailbox unread.
I can’t help it if I’m an impulse-buyer when it comes to books and magazines. This time I picked up the recent issue of The Believer, which is an interesting publication consisting of mostly essays, some comics, a sprinkle of interviews, and a dash of fiction/poetry.
Reading The Believer reminded me of that Monty Python movie “And Now For Something Completely Different.” There was an essay about Bulgarian “necrologues,” a poem about Manhattan, a brief piece about friendly visits, an article about what Daniel Handler is reading, and a fantastic article about a very strange race.
Leslie Jamison’s “The Immortal Horizon” was the highlight of this issue for me. It describes a race called the “Barkley Marathons,” a treacherous, painful race through horrors unknown in northern Tennessee. The first “race,” the author tells us, happened in 1977 when the man who shot Martin Luther King, Jr. made a prison break. He ran for it, but didn’t get very far through the mud, barbs, and rough terrain. Years later, a man named Gary Cantrell started what he calls the “Barkley Marathons”- a race of ridiculous difficulty and few rules. I’m not going to regurgitate the entire article here for you, but it’s an incredibly interesting story about the race and the crazy people who run it.
The Believer also gave a book and poetry award, one to a book called Next by James Hynes and another to a collection of poetry by Atsuro Riley. Neither of which I have much desire to read based on their summaries. The Believer also publishes book, music, and bureaucratic document reviews, which is pretty interesting. A book they reviewed called Spurious by Lars Iyer struck my attention and I might add it to my already lengthy to-read list.
The Believer definitely has a little bit of something for everyone, and it’s a fun read to flip through, though admittedly I skipped a few of the items and might not pick up another issue for a while.