Review: Sic Ravings


A review of SIC Magazine, the world’s only magazine devoted to mockery of books, bookselling and the culture of books: a miscellany of bookish jokes, bad puns, fingerpointing, stories & satire.

Spring 2003 and Winter 2002 now available. Cost is $6.25 each ppd US, Cash, Check, Paypal, MC, Visa, Amex. Published by J. Godsey Booksellers, 14 Pleasant St., Methuen, MA 01844, 978-725-0073, gods@attbi.com.

By: Stephen Windwalker

If there is an ordinary experience of reading, especially in this age of fragmented days and the hyper-saturation of cheap cultural stimuli, it is the experience of reading on the run. A dustjacket here, an article there, here a newspaper headline, there an email message … we may resist, but we are driven by many forces, few of them truly friendly, to read “for information” as if our lives and livelihoods depended on it.

This type of reading experience could not be more different than the experience that taught me to love reading: the invitation to enter a world made whole and full of wonder by a deity named L. Frank Baum or John R. Tunis or Ralph Ellison or George Eliot. The fiber and rigor and texture of these planned escapes made them well worth the cost of whatever I might miss in the experiential foreground of my life, and sooner or later I discovered that the form and even the occasional polemical excesses of these works of wonder had the power to inform my own living, in ways both serious and frivolous.

While I long for such transforming experiences among the too many competing claims that close in on me these days, I do not expect to find them very often, and least of all in magazines. A magazine, after all, is just a magazine. And more often than not magazines are part of the problem, petty parcels in the relentless flow of informational sewage that neither transforms nor illuminates.

So it took special resolve to send in my $6.25 one day late last year for the first issue of SIC. My resolve had been forged through regular reading of the “IOBA Monday Item” internet columns penned by SIC’s founder, editor, and publisher, J Godsey, Bookseller. I had a sense of what to expect.

SIC has delivered what I hoped for, and more. The first issue was great stuff, and the next even better. We are blessed to have a colleague among us who can so deftly and with such stunning humor make literature of the daily experience — banalities and bathos and all — of the bookseller’s life.

Literature? I use the word advisedly, because what Godsey does in the full body of her work including her magazine and her Monday item and even the occasional snarky message board post, is to create a world of bulls-eye verisimilitude every bit as worthy of the printed or digitalized page as the worlds of Sue Miller’s mother-daughter dyads or Salinger’s adolescent chatter or William H. Gass’ wide and happy protagonist. It may or may not a fictive world; by my lights it seems a bit of both.

As booksellers and bibliophiles, it is a world we feel we know so well that in a reverie of recognition we claim it for our own. But in truth it is J. Godsey’s world, God help her, and lest we blaspheme and forget her omnipotent place as its she-deity, she takes it upon herself every few paragraphs to come upside our head with biting irony or to split our sides with the kind of humor that not only makes us laugh out loud in the moment but also awakens us, cackling inexplicably, in the middle of the night.

As one who ever so earnestly operates a do-good bookselling website and who observes the many helpful if rather dull contributions of important and self-important bookselling experts in message board posts as well as in periodicals and in books such as my own dry tomes, I am immensely pleased that there is at least one among us who could care less about being helpful, and thereby probably provides more meaningful help than all the rest of us combined. I hope and trust that she will be cashing my checks, and yours, for many years to come.

(Stephen Windwalker is the author of Selling Used Books Online and Buying Books Online and the founder and proprietor of Windwalker Books and the Online Bookselling Resource Center.)

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