The fifth issue of Helter Skelter, a city-based magazine of short stories and poems will be launched next month at two venues — Churchgate and Khar. With a bigger push than last year, the anthology with 10 stories and six poems will be the six-year-old magazine’s second print edition.
Arun Kale, the founder of Helter Skelter is excited about the launch after a runaway success of the fourth anthology with which he ventured into the print version for the first time. “I had been running the online magazine for a long time and finally decided to put the money where the mouth is, and launched the first print edition last year. The copies sold faster than we expected,” he says.
The theme for this volume of new writing is After Hours. The stories and poems have been selected by Anjum Hasan (author of Difficult Pleasures, Lunatic in My Head, and The Cosmopolitans) and Samhita Arni (author of Sita’s Ramayana and The Missing Queen). The edition also includes a foreword by Hasan, and Disturbing, a shape poem by Chaitanya Modak a.k.a Won-Tolla.
“We received close to 500 submissions for this volume, of which 16 have made it to the book. Each piece of writing is accompanied by a piece of artwork inspired by and created exclusively for it,” Kale informs.
On the diminishing space for literary writing in the market, Kale says, “My experience tells me otherwise. In fact it is after the enthusiastic feedback online that I decided to go for the print edition and the response was great. I would say the market is not a huge one but there is definitely a market for the literary,” Kale explains.
The cover Helter Skelter’s after hours issue
Hasan, who was one of the judges for selection of stories, offers an insight into the collection. “I was struck by how many of the submissions were fantasies of escape: the longing to get past office life, corporate culture, family obligations, marital relationships and social roles. Perhaps the turning towards genres such as fantasy and sci-fi — its influence was obvious in some of these pieces — is also a turning away from everyday life, or at least of 21st century upper middle-class Indian everyday life. I have nothing against these forms but I’m curious about this ennui. Is it as pervasive as it seems to be from what I read and, if so, what literary conclusions can one draw from that? I’m going to wait and watch,” she says.