I approached TheUnlikely Journal of Architecture edited by Bernie Mojzes & AC Wise with a certain amount of anticipation—my experience with their magazine, The Unlikely Journal of Entomology, and AC Wise's often excellent fiction, led me to believe this would at least be an interesting experiment. TUJOE is an eclectic mix of fiction, a journal with affection for the intriguing idea, and I expected the editors to choose with similar tendencies. In that I was not disappointed.
The Journal opens with Go Through by Alma Alexander—a piece which comes into the vicinity of taking itself too seriously, but redeems the effort by flirting with the profound. Following on its heels however, the mildly novel trappings of Three Adventures of Simon Says, The Elder prove mere decorations on an ultimately shallow, pointless story, falling flat on final examination. Empty characters bleed into the background of this post-apocalyptic adventure tale set in the graveyard remains of a playground. Next, The Painted Bones features a shrill MC who managed to at least interest me up until the last flippant, clichéd line, which took a topic and character with infinite opportunity for depth and meaning, and dashed them against the rocks of tired humor.
A standard and annoying main character, whose arc is fatally weakened by predictability and the inability to delve beyond the surface of the presentation, ultimately hides the interesting idea and structure of The Dross Record. The ending is an ending only in that the text stops, resolving nothing, nor inviting the reader to draw conclusions beyond those on the page. Similarly, The Tower is about a child MC coping with tragedy, an idea unaided by the weak prose which renders the voice childish instead of child-like. The uninspired idea and execution adds nothing of value to this predictable and tedious entry.
On the other end of the spectrum, Geddarien by Rose Lemberg is a surreal Holocaust story about music, the power to move past tragedy, and the ultimate deliverance of the dead into the future by those they leave to struggle on. MC Zelig's progression from student at his grandfather's knee to survivor is beautiful and elegantly offered within a poignant theme often mishandled. This story is by far my favorite, followed by The Latest Incarnation of Secondhand Johnny by Mark Rigney, the issue's closing piece about dreams, empowerment and storytelling, then the lesser Go Through. Were the rest of the issue as well-laid as this, my overall impression would be incandescent.
In conclusion, the Unlikely Journal of Architecture shows promise for future installments, and offers a few pieces worth investigating, but falls short of being a completely masterful edition. Though an issue of erratic quality, the ideas presented prove sufficient enough I am interested to see what Unlikely does going forward. A journal supporting unusual ideas has considerable worth.