Quite often when I read mainstream American social science, especially of the “quantoid” variety, I’m reminded as to how much I appreciate literature. While acknowledging the importance of objective data collection and analysis in distinguishing social facts from all-too-fallible everyday perceptions, I also can’t help thinking that deeper, perhaps more significant meaning goes missing in the process. This occurred to me again recently as I perused the latest issue of the zine called Stupor, which for more than 15 years has surveyed the inner terrains of the shell-shocked victims of the class war known as neoliberalism.
Stupor was started in New Orleans in the spring of 1995 by writer and construction-business sole proprietor Steve Hughes and his friend Bill Rohde. It was originally supposed to be a vehicle for authors to publish experimental, confessional material. Not longer after, Hughes relocated to Hamtramck, Michigan, a mostly Eastern European enclave almost completely surrounded by the city of Detroit and once home to the now-demolished Dodge Main Plant, a massive automotive manufacturing facility that competed with Henry Ford’s River Rouge Complex as a paragon of vertically integrated mass production.
With the move, came the conversion of Stupor into Hughes’s solo project. Instead of publishing stories written by others, he began writing all of the stories himself, using anecdotes he collected from people he met or conversations he overheard in working-class bars, construction worksites, and elsewhere he came upon people talking.
As is typical of the genre, the early issues of Stupor are crude cut-and-paste affairs, produced in small quantities using one-color quick-printers and extremely low budgets. (According to the “History” section of the zine’s website, the first four issues of 1000 each were all published for the cost of two cases of beer.) With experience and the capabilities afforded by newer improvements in desktop publishing technology, the production values have been raised somewhat, but not to the level where one would call them slick. More recent issues have been done in collaboration with visual artists who interact with the author to create thematic mashups of image and text, form and content. . . .
Read more: Washed in Dirt: Steve Hughes’s Stupor