Month: December 2015

A Conversation With Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children

A Conversation With Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children

Interview by Nathan Leslie Nathan Leslie: It’s so wonderful to have the chance to chat with you a bit about your work and life, Lidia. Congratulations on all the success you have found with The Small Backs of Children, a wonderful novel that diverges from […]

Mixed Media: “86 Ships” by Emily Linstrom & Matthew Logan

Mixed Media: “86 Ships” by Emily Linstrom & Matthew Logan

Emily Linstrom is a NYC-based artist. Her writing and photography have been featured by/in Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, Project Naked, Eunoia Review, American Slander, Nailed Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, Misfit Magazine, and Yes, Poetry, as October’s featured poet.  She is currently first prize […]

Next Stop Adventure: The Book by Matt Gauck

Next Stop Adventure: The Book by Matt Gauck

Pioneers Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-939899-07-1
Paperback, 282 pp., $8
Review by Andrew T. Powers

In high school, my good friend Dave introduced me to the world of zines through the seminal punk zine, Cometbus, and this began a period when a number of us wrote, photocopied, stapled, and distributed our own zines. After a years-long hiatus, I happened across a book on zines at my local library, and after a bit of research, discovered that a print zine community still exists—and thrives—even despite the ubiquity of web-based magazines. I ordered a ton of stuff through various websites, and soon enough was made privy to one of the best of contemporary zines, Next Stop Adventure by Matt Gauck, a travel zine, the stories in which tap into a number of social and artistic concerns. To date, Matt has written five zines in this series, covering roughly ten years of travel experience; all of them are quarter-sized, staple-bound, range in length from twenty to nearly eighty pages, and scattered throughout appear his delightful drawings. Last year, the good people at Pioneers Press collected them all in book form, and I recently had the opportunity to read the stories again.

Matt has been all over the country, has visited nearly every state, and his writings present an encounter with an America few of us experience, making the bulk of his journeys by bicycle, though occasionally by car (some by hitchhiking and at least one arranged through Craigslist), by bus, train, and once by plane. It starts with the relatively short trip from Savannah, GA, to Coward, SC (200-ish miles); is followed by the super-long trip from North Carolina to Portland, OR (2,830 miles); and after a number of short and long trips in between, ends with a trek from Anchorage, AK (arrived at by plane) to the largely unpaved Denali Highway, through Glenallen to Valdez, and back home again. What is sometimes painfully evident is that Matt intentionally under-prepares for each trip, often not even packing what most would consider necessities. “Good planning leads to good plans,” he says, “but no planning leads to great stories.” And so we find in these pages an adventurer with a tremendous sense of humor and an intuition comparable to that of MacGyver’s to get him through his travels, sometimes surviving by dumpster-diving for food behind grocery stores, gas stations, and bagel shops, to supplement what little food he brings along with him. “Somewhere in the midst of all that unscrupulous vagabonding, I started clinging to ‘day-to-day’ living as a substitute for trying to plan my life.” Sounds exciting, right? And the sleeping situations, while often humorous, are usually far less than ideal, though sometimes ingenious: on a concrete bridge support in Washington, DC; on the roofs of a KFC (twice), an Applebee’s, and an abandoned building; inside a model home; in an unlocked hotel conference room; and while stowing away in a coffin-shaped space on a train from Iowa to Portland, OR.

While this book is specifically about Matt’s travels, it is more generally about adventurous living. Or, as he says, “this has never been about the bike ride itself. It’s the feelings and thoughts, the dreams and plans—those are the intended results from unplanned, seat-of-your-pants trips like this.” Born from a belief in the primacy of the individual in society, his writings speak to his perpetual struggle against complacency and boredom, and his lust for exploring life and widening his perception of the world. As he says:

New situations serve as catalysts to electrify the brain, to kick-start the frontal lobe into full function, to create a new color, to define a new sound, to conceive art beyond all comprehension. Every person with a beating heart is capable of something new.

Forcing oneself beyond perceived limitations through spontaneous experience leads, ultimately, to personal revelation. “I hope that the experiences, those rare moments—the ‘perfect days’—will silence our talking, engage our every sense, and carve permanent, inescapable marks on our lives.” I’m not exaggerating when I say reading Next Stop Adventure might very be the very impetus for some of you to start living (again?), to go out there and find something about which you are passionate—and do it!