It seemed fitting that I read through The Tangential’s first foray into published print while riding shotgun along the bleak highways of North Dakota. Desolate and dying dystopias filled much of the book’s pages, with little bits of hope and happiness scattered in and out of each piece.
Future Cities—which features short pieces of fiction by local literati Becky Lang, Jay Gabler, Heidi Schatz, John Jodzio, and more (like not-so-local-Portable.tv’s Kat George)—is a collection of little glimpses into possibilities for the future. Each piece is unique to itself, but each fits well smooshed together under the giant umbrella of Future Cities without screaming at you “THE FUTURE IS NOW.”
The future does seem to feel a lot like now, however. There are break ups, there are new-agey penitentiaries, there are time capsules, jello, hashtags. Trivial Pursuit, Kohl’s, and Funyuns still exist, which is good. Crispin Best’s piece “I Woke Up and it Was the Future. Hi. Things Seem the Same.” does an excellent job of conveying just how similar and different things are between the present we readers know and the futures depicted throughout the collection.
Regular readers of The Tangential will notice a lack of lists, how-to’s, and much of the snark found on the site. This collection moves more into the thought-provoking types of pieces they’ve published lately (like this). That’s not to say this will disappoint the site’s wide range of fans. In fact, Gabler’s piece feels like a nice compromise between the two.
Of course the biggest difference is that this is collection is a fiction compilation, whereas the website is mainly nonfiction. This book proves that these writers can hold their own in both literary realms. The characters are relatable, and none of the prose reads awkward or seems forced. Not one writer seems to be thinly veiling themselves in their characters.
Without reading a byline, each story is pretty easy to attach to the correct author, as the writers all have their unique voice and subject matters. This makes sense, as shorter pieces get more hits online and help satisfy our general internet ADD, whereas a book allows the writers to slow it down and really come into their own with more poignant pieces and deeper themes than you might find on the interwebs.
A quick read, this book gives me hope for the future of The Tangential and what else they’ve got up their publishing or partying sleeves—if you haven’t been to one of their more recent events, I suggest you go to whatever they plan next. Worthwhile.
Guys! The Twin Cities has so much goodness going on in the literary realm that it only feels right to start off 2013 with something so well done. Pick up your very own copy of Future Cities by clicking here. You won’t be disappointed.