Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Kindling Quarterly

My friend Tirzah pointed out in the comment section here that there is a new publication for/by/about fathers.  Intrigued, I ponied up the fourteen dollars ($14!) to get the inaugural edition.  I've now digested it and thought I'd share some reactions.

First of all, it's a beautiful object.  Originating in the NYC DIY movement and highlighting "creative individuals whose work and lives are inseparable from their role as a parent", it's printed matte on heavy stock and features very good design and arresting images, mostly of fathers and children.  While the photo subjects are refreshingly not model-level attractive, the composition of the photos really catches the eye.

Secondly, there's definitely a gap in the parenting publications out there.  I remember being disappointed in early fatherhood that Parents magazine really should be called Mothers magazine.  It really doesn't address fathers at all.  So huzzah to KQ for stepping into the breach and making a dad mag.

Unlike a great music album that catches your attention by beginning with strong tracks, having the best song third in the lineup (check your record collection - true more often than not) burying the weak stuff in the middle and then finishing with something very satisfying, Kindling Quarterly's first issue starts off extremely weakly.  It does finish in a sublime fashion, but oh! the start.  Right inside the front cover, we find a lovely-to-look-at paragraph strong on the passive voice and weak on basic punctuation.  The opening essay that follows features similar problems that smack of an editor who is not himself a reader.  I would not have expected such laxness in the text from a publication that is so carefully crafted as an objet.  Also, it's great to look different from other magazines out there, but why eschew bylines?  Especially when the front of the book was so poorly written, I wanted to know who wrote each piece.  I couldn't tell most of the time.  The enterprise looked rotten at the core; lovely to look at but a product of our society's long slide into ignorance of the rules of language.

As I said, the quality of the writing and editing got noticeably better as the issue went along (wedding at Cana, anyone?).  So let's call that an "opportunity for improvement".  I really liked the Dan Funderburgh mash note/photo essay at the end, the interview with Joe Randazzo from Thing X (formerly of The Onion) and August Heffner's travelogue about how Turkish men love babies.>

I have no idea why it's called Kindling Quarterly, by the way.  It never says.

Finally, I do hope that the first issue's Brooklyn-centric myopia dissipates over time.  It's probably just the founders tapping their near network first.  Needless to say, there are interesting dads who do not now and never have lived in hipster ground zero.  The opening manifesto says that KQ hopes to be a place where "men's parental stories can proliferate"  and says that "Done in an inclusive manner, surely only good can come of this proliferation."  I'll take them at their word and believe that it's going to be more inclusive than Issue 1 looks.


Azure said...

You should join their staff as an editor.

JFo said...

In my spare time?

Azure said...

Yes, in your free time. ;) You could link to this blog and get more hits here.

Azure said...

This magazine is stalking my blogs.

JFo said...

To be fair to KQ, you seeded it here via a link to another blog.

I felt the same way, though, when I saw the creator of the TV show Enlightened listed in the descriptions of episodes of two different podcasts to which I subscribe.