The Minus Times

edited by Hunter Kennedy, www.minustimes.com

I've known about The Minus Times for several years but have never known what to make of its humorous, almost Southern-gothic mysteries. Issue #28 of the zine has finally been released after a two-year disappearing act, prompting me to question editor Hunter Kennedy about his strange creation.

When did you start The Minus Times?

The Fall of 1992. I was living in the attic of an old boarding house in Austin, Texas, with nothing but cardboard furniture and a 1922 Underwood portable typewriter I found in a Wyoming junk store. It began as a single sheet of paper.

How did you get a record label (Drag City) to start publishing it?

They wanted to start a press and needed a low-budget guinea pig. I'd been buds with the Silver Jews since college and had been pelting Dan Koretzky from Drag City with my letters for the past few years, hoping somebody would notice. But I was totally surprised they wanted to back it. Given the opportunity, I convinced him to let me put together a real magazine. So between shifts as a manuscript reader at W.W. Norton, I came up with a format, conned some friends into sending me material, and lifted the rest from the "slush pile" of the publishing house's rejected manuscripts, which included something by an illiterate piano mover from Ohio.

Is there a Minus Times family? It seems like many of the writers have appeared there regularly.

Yes. A foster family. A foster family that gets home-schooled in a ramshackle mansion behind a derelict strip mall. I've been lucky enough to find several talented writers. Or rather, they found me, either through blind submissions or persistent emails. Jeff Johnson and Hudson Bell are prime examples of the dangers of internet dating. I kinda poached Sam Lipsyte from Open City after he'd been published there several times.

What sort of humor clicks with you?

I think the staggering honesty of say, Brad Neely's comics, is what makes them so startlingly funny. Because the funny shit is the shit most of us would never admit, even to ourselves. And I'll take absurd over clever any day. KEVIN SAMPSELL

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