Sidebrow's Collaborative CITY: A Review by J. A. Tyler


Sidebrow Books is going to (if they haven’t already) become a seething force in the mouth of indie lit. Take a slim volume like City, this unassuming book written in collage, covered thick in words, & it is apparent that what exhales is deeply literary & wholly interesting:

[City] was curated by Sidebrow, culling from contributions to The City Project, one of several collaborative projects evolving on the Sidebrow Web site. We invite you to extend, reimagine, and respond creatively to what you see developing in this book and on our Web site.

With the publication of the Sidebrow 01 Anthology back in 2008, there was no question as to whether or not Sidebrow was doing something creative & intriguing. They were. But then 2009 came & went: no new books. So when this press ensemble enflamed 2010 with 3 new titles (Sandy Florian’s On Wonderland & Waste, Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s Selenography, & Sidebrow’s first multi-author chapbook, City), we become reassured that what was happening, is happening again.

 13 Leah, captivated with the lore of the center, questioned whether anyone had ever been inside the wall at night.

14 By day Central Park was open to everyone.

15 By nightfall the gates were closed, even to the men that tended the earth.

16 Trapped between two worlds of immense darkness, Isaac and Leah dreamed of passing through walls and finding light

City is a meaty paw raising up to call I, a book in attendance at our presses-doing-sick-literary-damage roll call. The table of contents is relegated to the back pages, so that we must first read & then learn the identities of our authors, which segments they specifically authored, who wrote what. & even those assignments are not linear, with Dutton’s pieces spread throughout City, yet the narrative gait that City easily holds is quite astounding in its cohesiveness. Reading City doesn”â„¢t feel like reading cullings, & there is a clear magic in that:

When you enter the city in the dark you enter with your life in your hands. When you enter the city at dawn, where then is your life? In your throat? The city will sing for you. At dawn, a golden faintness, rooftops hum. A glimpse of river. A pattern of gulls. But in darkness, through a grove of trees, alone, voiceless, or talking to yourself, in your own ear, in another’s, the fog, the wet grass, a fox, moving through darkness, through the grove of trees, the grass, the wet grass, then cobbles are under your feet. Where did the wet grass end? When was the moment at which the city had you?

City, and by proxy the genius Sidebrow editors, is rampant & good. They have made a book here that sparks new conversations, investigates old ones, & re-envisions the now of writing. What is a book when it is written by four distinctly different authors? What is a book when it is culled from an online journal? What is a book when it invites new authors anytime, anywhere? City.


Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Danielle Dutton, Matt Hart, & Shane Michalik

Sidebrow Books, 2010


  • Here’s the math: From 2005-2009 283 students from BISD went to ACC; 112 to Blinn; 78 to Texas A&M; 76 to UT; 89 to Texas State. 384 graduated in 2005; 460 in 2006; 408 in 2007; 442 in 2008; 449 in 2009. The percentages are this: 13% of those graduates went to ACC; 5% to Blinn; and 11% combined to UT, A&M, and Texas State. If, if, if…ACC’s graduation rate is 4% then that means 11 of those 283 students who went to ACC actually received a diploma.
    In a heart beat I would give $200 a year to one of those 11 students or for that matter any one of the students who chooses to go to another college or university annually rather than give $200 a year to an institution that has a proven failure record.