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.
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.
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.