With issue number one, Jamais Vu established itself as a strong newcomer to the dark fiction scene. We got short stories and poetry, movie and book reviews, and a few articles covering a little bit of everything. What they did was not only bring some great new as well as veteran voices together, but also set high expectations for issue number two of what is, admittedly, an experiment, a test run, if you will. So, how does issue two compare? Quite well, actually, and a little bit more organized. The format hasn’t changed, but new features have been added and the quality has stayed consistently strong.
We start issue two strong, dark, and bleak, with a story called “Valedictorian,” by Steven Wolf. In a post-apocalyptic setting, we follow two kids as they attempt to keep all sanity and order for disappearing by going to school. As they pass dead, broken bodies on their way to US History class, we aren’t sure what happened, but we do know that they are among a small group of survivors. When a small group begins bullying another kid outside, things go from simply bleak to violent and forever changed. Shortly after, a short story by Billie Sue Mosiman called “The Long Lonely Empty Road” gives us the stranded motorist in danger story, but with a pretty sneaky twist.
Poetry is not forgotten in this issue; there are selections from Rose Blackthorn and Michael Bailey as well as Bram Stoker nominated writers Vincenzo Bilof and Stephanie Wytovich. Neither is the art, as we take a look at some of Lydia Burris’ works (she also happens to be the artist who created the covers of both existing issues of Jamais Vu as well as those of the next two).
And then we get to one of the themes of issue #2: Bigfoot. Lately, Bigfoot has become as trendy as bacon, but Jamais Vu gives a good overview of the fringe aspects of the trend. There is a brief intro to the theme in which we discuss not the “what,” but the “Why” of the current Bigfoot popularity. After that, successful paranormal romance author Alexandra Christian discusses crypto-zoological erotica versus monster porn. Editor Elizabeth Jenike shows us the cryptids, or hominids, or “Bigfoots” located in other areas of the world. There’s a review of the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek, a conversation with Jean St. Jean, an artist and sculptor who works on many figures from the worlds of sci-fi and horror, and an excerpt from The Big Man of Barlow, a novel by Brad Carter. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the interview with Bobcat Goldthwait, director of the soon to be released Bigfoot “found footage” film, Willow Creek.
We move from talk of supernatural legends to the more real, as Lucy A. Snyder recounts the time she met Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, and many others. And thus begins the other theme of the second issue, this one dealing with memories. Jack Ketchum (of Girl Next Door, Offspring, and The Woman fame) gives us a very sad short story called “Oldies,” about a character who is having troubles not only forming memories, but also accepting help. Lucy A. Snyder returns to bring us a kind of sci-fi short, “Functionality,” about a soldier who is given a controversial experimental drug that might erase not only the physical wounds, but also some of the mental ones. It also might have other side effects, too. In “Karmic Interventions,” William D Carl talks directly to us as a fellow with seemingly horrible luck as he recounts his twelve ex-wives and their dreadful, but accidental, exits from his life, and how lucky #13 seemed to share a similar history, one that made it impossible to keep her.
Jamais Vu, issue 2, closes out with more movie reviews, some more “strange” movie suggestions, a couple book reviews, and another trip down memory lane with Harlan Ellsion, who explains the moment he realized that all guys are pigs and why he will now be bringing a glove for anyone who wants to shake his hand (hint: it involves a bathroom at Chicago’s O’Hare airport). There is also a new feature, starting in this issue, where a prominent dark fiction writer will be interviewed about their writing process. The first victim/interviewee is John Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, the Joe Ledger series, the young-adult series Rot & Ruin, and dozens more. And, of course, we can’t forget about the comics, with this issues’ being Bigfoot-themed.
In all, the second issue of Jamais Vu has taken what the first issue laid out as a premise as made it better, tightened it up, made it a little stronger. It’s another quick read that starts and ends on strong notes, and it’s hard to believe that so much good stuff is crammed into such a short issue. These guys are doing something great, and if you haven’t jumped on board yet by issue two, well, issue three is just around the corner, and word on the street is this next one is going to be even stronger.