When I re-subscribed to Brick Magazine earlier this year, a pull-down menu asked how I had heard about their publication.
I sat and thought about it but finally filled the field with this: I feel as though I’ve always known about Brick.
But, when I revisit my magazine files (carefully constructed thanks to years of family and friends saving their empty laundry detergent boxes and pretty tissue paper in colours dark enough to cover their bold name brands, long before I knew about phosphates), I see that something must have happened in 1994, something that brought me to Brick.
It might have been the Ondaatje connection, it might have been a chance encounter in a high-quality bookshop, it might have been any number of Bookish things.
But what Brick brought to me in that first issue (which was actually their 50th issue, published in autumn 1994) were words by writers whose novels I wouldn’t yet read for some years but many of their names populate my List of Favourite Writers now.
In that sense, this first of my Brick issues is little different from the first which has arrived from this recent re-subscription (I have lapsed more than once, always driven by dollars, never for lack of desire)
Let’s say the world is comprised of readers who choose their books — and other reading material — based on their covers and readers who are not influenced by covers.
If that’s the case and you are a reader who’s inordinately influenced by covers, you should subscribe to Brick.
Why? Because they have lovely ones, the sort that people sitting near you will crane their necks to see.
One of my favourites is Number 52’s, which shows Salman Rushdie (about age 6) intently reading with Sameen and Nevid (sisters, it seems, of similar ages). It’s a family photo but delightfully bookish: I love it.
I also spent a lot of time staring at Number 72’s cover which features an image by Sandy Nicholson, staring partly because the image is so striking and partly because this issue contained an inordinate number of pieces that were of particular interest to me so I carried it around with me for a good long while.
But say you’re a reader who’s not inordinately influenced by covers?
Well, you too should subscribe to Brick. Why? Because as lovely as their covers are, you’ll spend the majority of the time you spend with the magazine will find you staring at its insides.
Those two issues I mention up there?
Well the first has a interview by Caryl Phillips with Salman Rushdie and another by Eleanor Wachtel with Carolyn Forché, two photographs of Gwendolyn MacEwen circa 1960, a behind-the-scenes piece by Isabel Huggan about The Elizabeth Stories (a wonderful linked collection), and other pieces on garlic, Alaskan schoolmarms, Galicia and nature writing.
Whereas the second has Alice Munro’s remembrance of the genesis and growth of her story “The Love of a Good Woman”, a short theatrical work by Carol Shields, excerpts from Sheila Watson’s journal, Rosemary Sullivan’s account of following in D.H. Lawrence’s footsteps in Italy, and a conversation with Walter Tevis.
Brick is, simply, terrific. Yah, I know, I already linked it up above, but I’m hoping that, even if you read past the first one, you’ve since been convinced to swing by and check them out.
Is there a magazine in your bookish life that you feel you have always known, for which you’re oh-so grateful?