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Nemonymous: a megazanthus for parthenogenetic fiction and late-labelling (number 4)

(author details to follow with Part Five)

(96 pages, landscape format paperback, 2004. See www.nemonymous.com for all pricing and distribution details.)

Review by The Mad Wavid

Arriving, as ever, with an ambition so large that it has its own postcode, the fourth instalment of Nemonymous (or Nemo 4, as its friends would have it) is as fervent and wicked a collection of new short fiction as cover scanis being published anywhere today. It is to the editor's credit that this volume could stand head to toe, not only with its younger siblings, but with any other magazine that is currently doing the rounds. The written contents even allow the reviewer to overlook the fact that the absence of inside illustrations -- and even of a cover illustration, and even of a single word on the cover -- make the finished product look like a proof. Apologies to any fans of minimalism who happen to be reading this, but I really liked the 'old' design.

But on.

There are seventeen stories. Concentrating on your reviewer's personal favourites, I will say that the magazine's open-upper, 'Apologising to the Concrete' is a well-written tale and a very good idea. Here we explore the themes of anonymity and contrition in a beautifully sour narrative about the aftermath of a violent crime. 'Creek Man' has a nice 50s feel, although the ending is a slight disappointment. It concerns the discovery of what might or might not be an alien. 'Leaves Like Hearts' (the best title in the magazine, for my money) is passionate, rumbling and hungry. 'My Burglar' is a neat conceit about invasion and obsession; and 'Determining the Extent' has some excellent writing: 'weatherbeaten faces, brown working clothes, eyes oddly proud of having seen too much'. That 'oddly proud' works extremely well in context.

But it is 'Sexy Beast' that stands out in this collection. 'It's Wednesday now,' the author writes, 'we're still trapped inside the skeleton.' As with all of the stories in Nemonymous, the joy is in the finding and so I won't reveal how we lead up to that line; but this is an excellent idea that charms the reviewer (and the reader, one would hope) doo-lally.

By some distance this is Lewis's sexiest issue yet. Nemonymous, it would seem, has gone into the mating season -- and of course the results are very different from the more horror-tinged second volume. This is all to the good. If the magazine can continue to grow in this way -- to expand, to assess -- then it will always be worth seeking out the next volume. I would like to take the opportunity to recommend Nemonymous wholeheartedly.

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