Sein Und Werden: “Ironic Fantastic”

Ironic Fantastic-photo by DFLewisThe (reputedly) last ever print issue of Sein Und Werden is out now, (entitled ‘The Ironic Fantastic’) featuring my 1000-word fiction “Madame Mannequin”, about a shop window tailors dummy who comes alive…. or is it? The editor was Rhys Hughes, and who but the inestimable Welshman himself could have got away with such editorial liberties? His theme was ‘ironic short fiction from the European continent’ inspired by the likes of Cocteau, Alfau, Calvino and Zamyatin (I’m cunningly only listing the ones I’ve read!) and such was his disgust at the failure of most submissions to meet these criteria that he took to writing some of the issue himself. He’s fessed up to being “Jason E Rolfe” already (Stop Press: I stand corrected, the man is real assuredly) but if he isn’t also “Theo Travis Geller” then I shall eat my woolly hat.
Not that I’m complaining! They’re all great stories, and I’m honoured to be in there amongst the sooky good boys and girls who met the guidelines. I particularly liked the psychedelic madness of “Hunted” by Sissy Pantellis. Some of the stories read like a homage to Rhys himself, like Hannah F Lawson’s “Viennese Whirl”, a story about the writing of itself. The magazine is shipping with a second volume, a sort of out-building of naughty authors who’ve been sent to Coventry for not meeting the guidelines well enough. In there we find my friend and publisher David Rix also doing the self-referential story-writing-itself trick, this time in outer space, and the always-gripping Terry Grimwood showing us a man hunting and killing his own doppelgänger and dissolving in the process.
As ever, Sein Und Werden excels as a gloriously off-beat collection of all things bizarre and non-conformist. Politics aside, the short reign of Rhys Hughes shows him as that rarest of things: a benign dictator, and I found the concluding concrete poem by Adele Whittle strangely touching through all its Rhysian flippancy. The next issue’s editor will be Kim Jong-un (just kidding).

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