The Minus Times Turns 20 with No. 30

Peter Cavanaugh

The Minus Times Collected No. 30 hunter kennedy

The Minus Times Collected No. 30

The dominating conversation at the Minus Times release party this past Sunday was “I didn’t know the Gutter had a backroom.” It was congenially backroom.

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Sam Lipsyte (left) with Hunter Kennedy. Photo: Sarahana

By seven thirty, drinks had found their way into everyone's hands and Hunter Kennedy – the editor, the energy, the everything of Minus Times– took the stage. He was polite and wore khaki trousers and a green blazer. The focus of the night was the recently released Minus Times Collected published by Chicago’s Featherproof Books and Drag City. Hunter read several classics before inviting contributors to the stage to read.

Above: Jeff Rotter. Photo: Sarahana

Jeff Rotter read his newest MT piece on a full bladder. His story didn't suffer for it, and the crowd laughed all the way. Jeff Johnson and David Roth read fake sports cards facts while holding up a laptop displaying the cards. No one minded that the projector was out. Eric Amling read two poems which stirred Hunter to remind us all that poetry is sometimes a better way to talk about an experience than prose. Sam Lipsyte closed the reading with his “I Tried to be a Beacon.”

Above: David Roth and Jeff Johnson. Photo: Sarahana

Above: Eric Amling. Photo: Sarahana

Above: Sam Lipsyte. Photo: Sarahana

The crowd was a mix of old fans and older friends. They filtered through each other, shaking hands and using first names when addressing one another. The Minus Times has flown under cloud cover for the past twenty years, collecting the best in what can only be classified as honest American writing. That only thirty or so people filled the backroom was appropriate, if not unfortunate: the Big Star of the literary world. The Lorin Stein’s may never show up to these things, and not just because of the low bird count. The Electric Literature’s will perhaps never send their interns to document these readings. It’s okay, though, because the Minus Times has never really been of the literary world, rather just of the world.

Matt won the liquor raffle.

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