Out now: Matchbook Stories #4

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Have you ever loved a story so much that you wished you could put it in your pocket and carry it around with you forever? I’ve had this problem countless times – thick-paged literary journals are notoriously objects that you don’t want to carry in your bag. Matchbook Stories from Cyprus – the smallest literary journal in the world – have found a solution. Instead of printing their short stories in magazine format, the publisher hand staples them into tiny matchbox-shaped, cardboard envelopes (below): a perfect format for whipping out at any moment’s notice and for weightless carrying.

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Issue four is the most charmingly illustrated and contains four ‘matchbooks’ in total. One is by Ali Smith, another by graphic novelist Etgar Keret, a third by Marti Leimbach and the fourth by Irish writer Frances Gapper. Inside the tiny pages, there’s no clue as to who authored which matchbook. At first, I first found this frustrating but it actually adds to the project’s mystery and charm. The stories are supposed to get lost and exchange hands – the journal’s tagline states ‘read and share with a friend’ – and I like that they might fall away from their original packaging with no concrete way to find their origin.

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The stories are short, crisp and atmospheric, and they make good use of pacing (an important line break will often be followed by the turn of a page, making the words all the more emphatic). As soon as I started reading the stories, I immediately wanted to pass the matchbooks to different friends: it’s rare to find a magazine that you want to give away not because you don’t like it, rather because it’s so special that you actively want to share it.

http://bookexmachina.com/

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