Rough Beast

The newest issue arrived on our shelves a few months back and we finally had a chance to talk about it with William Stewart, one of its founders. We met William years ago when he came into the shop looking for something by Bellow. That endeared him to us immediately. William is very tall, very polite, very smart, and the kind of person who always remembers your birthday. He’s one of our favorite customers at Fine Bagels. If you’re ever in Princeton, NJ, look him up and he’ll tell you all kinds of wonderful stories about all kinds of wonderful things. DSC_0093

Fine Bagels: William, what is Rough Beast?

William: Rough Beast is a small, independent press operating between Berlin, Brazil, and various parts of the US, mostly the northeast. I edit the project with my friend Joey Horan, and we’ve been putting things out under the Rough Beast name since 2012.

At the start, everything was email – inviting our friends to write with us, mailing out pdfs of the essays – and RB was an excuse to keep in touch with people we knew and thought were thinking about interesting things. Joey and I had just graduated from the same college and moved pretty far away from each other – me to Berlin and Joey to Austin – and we felt a panicked need to hold on to some kind of atmosphere of cultural thinking, some kind of headspace where there were common referents and the person on the other end might ‘get’ us. I was suddenly studying in a place where I understood about 20% of the things being said around and to me, and Joey was working a combination of day and night jobs that didn’t afford the most culturally critical space. 

In fact, by the time we launched our latest release in November, Joey and I hadn’t seen each other for the entire length of the project, three and a half years almost. I had been in Berlin that whole time, moving back to the States at the very end of it; Joey had moved from Austin to Seattle and then to São Luis, Brazil, as a Fulbright scholar. We finally caught each other in New York over Thanksgiving this year. So that’s the explanation for the Berlin-Brazil-somewhereUSA non-answer on location.
To date, we’ve released three larger publications. At the start of 2013, we put out something like an internet magazine, collecting together nine of our friends’ work in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry under the thematic heading of ‘non-existence’. I think this one was as much an exercise in self-discipline than anything else.
Then, a year ago, at the end of 2014, we released a second collection, Rough Beast: bullshit. The form of this one is very similar to non-existence in that it collects nine pieces of fiction and non-fiction that consider the aesthetic potential of bullshit, but we decided that we wanted a physical printed issue for this one. We worked with a risograph studio in Berlin, we make it, and then hand-sewed the issue together – nine hand-bound pamphlets in a silk-screened sleeve.
And releasing bullshit also encouraged us to migrate to our own website, roughbeastmagazine.comDSC_0091DSC_0090DSC_0089
Fine Bagels: William, what’s this third edition of Rough Beast about?

William: At the start of this past summer, we began working with our friend and Berlin-based American architect Anna Kostreva to document a sort of ‘urban research vacation’ she had taken in the spring through China, Japan, and Singapore. Anna had kept a pretty astounding travel journal and a substantial collection of photographs from the trip, and we realized that the only format really suitable for publishing the work would be something of book-length.

This met an interest of RB’s that had grown since doing bullshit, which is that we wanted to turn our attention toward longer-form releases.
Joey collaborated closely with Anna throughout the summer, and what resulted was a constellations of essays, poems, fragments, and photos called Three Pathways to Get Anywhere (Except When There Is a Dead End). The text integrates personal anecdotes, urban architectural analysis, and musings on the foreign to examine what can and cannot inhabit global practices. The writing takes both stylistic and thematic cues from the splintered poetry of people like Renata Adler and Etel Adnan, posing questions from a perspective where intercontinental travel has become normalized and societies on the opposite side of the globe increasingly appear in the imagination only as quantifiable sets of big data. It’s a narrative through the mind and eyes of a young female architect interested equally in the state of modern cities and in their capacity to speak to those who visit, use, and live in them. Why do we still travel, and what significance does the act of taking a trip now have? What does travel tell us about where privilege is located and who has it?
Fine Bagels: Can you talk a little about the design? The two color choice?

William: For Three Pathways, we had enormous help from our friends Michelle and Johannes who make up the Berlin-based design studio Y-U-K-I-K-O. We had approached them originally with the intention of again using risograph to print the book, but we quickly realized that the book’s length was going to make risograph unfeasible. Still, we didn’t want to stray too far visually from the feel of bullshit, so Y-U-K-I-K-O operated within the aesthetics of playful simplicity that riso delivers while taking advantage of the flexibility that offset printing allows.

It was important that the layout design engaged closely with the content, so Y-U-K-I-K-O worked closely with us and with Anna to find a design that helped accent the text. While the writing is very accessible, the structure of the text is rather complex, and Y-U-K-I-K-Os task involved helping to communicate that complexity in a way that was understandable visually. The typefaces, use of black pages and white pages, the placement and combination of images: all of these offer the reader different handles and grips on the content. Needless to say, we were extremely impressed with what Y-U-K-I-K-O produced. I’m very much looking forward to future collaborations with them.

For Three Pathways, we had enormous help from our friends Michelle and Johannes who make up the Berlin-based design studio Y-U-K-I-K-O. We had approached them originally with the intention of again using risograph to print the book, but we quickly realized that the book’s length was going to make risograph unfeasible. Still, we didn’t want to stray too far visually from the feel of bullshit, so Y-U-K-I-K-O operated within the aesthetics of playful simplicity that riso delivers while taking advantage of the flexibility that offset printing allows.
It was important that the layout design engaged closely with the content, so Y-U-K-I-K-O worked closely with us and with Anna to find a design that helped accent the text. While the writing is very accessible, the structure of the text is rather complex, and Y-U-K-I-K-Os task involved helping to communicate that complexity in a way that was understandable visually. The typefaces, use of black pages and white pages, the placement and combination of images: all of these offer the reader different handles and grips on the content. Needless to say, we were extremely impressed with what Y-U-K-I-K-O produced. I’m very much looking forward to future collaborations with them.DSC_0092
Fine Bagels: What will we see from Rough Beast in the future?
William: We are already working on a few projects whose aims are similar to Three Pathways, so I forecast another book from us in the near future. Also, in the last year, we began posting book reviews on our website, with the interest in bringing attention to other smaller presses, similar printing projects, or written works with particularly creative or experimental approaches to cultural, artistic, architectural, or literary thinking. Suggestions, submissions, and collaborations are all welcome by us!
More information about Three Pathways to Get Anywhere as well as our order page can be found here:
http://roughbeastmagazine.com/three-pathways-to-get-anywhere/People are welcome to drop us a line at roughbeastmagazine@gmail.com or like us on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/rghbst?_rdr=p ) to stay up to date on our work. DSC_0080

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