Cover of Stink - black and white photograph of the wonderwheel at dusk by Chris Stein


Stink by Romy Ashby - cover

STINK ($25) When I was writing this thing twenty years ago, I told my friend Loren MacIver about it one day and she said, “Oh, I wouldn’t call it Stink if I were you, because if you do, anyone who doesn’t like it will say it does just that.” The title popped into my head one hot summer night in 1995 when a garbage truck came around a corner and dumped a load of foul-smelling trash beside me on the street. I was standing outside the gates of an old cemetery on East 2nd Street, and in that moment the barest idea for a story formed in my mind, one redolent of old neighborhoods in old cities where a certain amount of ruin and decrepitude made so much possible.

As I wrote it, all of my ideas came from wandering around town, just looking. Twenty years ago Manhattan still had lots of secondhand bookstores and flea markets. There were cheap diners and funny nightspots where all kinds of imaginative things flourished without costing fortunes, and the two big flea markets on Sixth Avenue brought endless ideas to bear every weekend. So did the donut shop on the corner of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, where all the old ladies gathered to complain. I wrote Stink as a little curio of a story just for the fun of writing it. Over the years I tweaked it some, but mostly it sat in the closet like a time capsule. Loren may very well have been right about the title, but only time will tell.

Back Cover Blurbs:

“Romy is a wonderful writer. I hope there will be further episodes, future tales of these curious people from a charmed city in a more magical time for me to sink my teeth into.”

–Debbie Harry

“Stink starts off with a little dream. On a personal note, I am sort of amazed by the rest of the story’s resemblance to my own dream states and landscapes. Stink is an incantation and exhortation of the love of things gone by, things lost in the alleys of time. Early on we are told that “…when they stopped using upholstery in trains and buses…they changed fabric to plastic and people forgot how to love!” This theme is maintained throughout, but gradually we see that romanticizing the past is perhaps an inevitable side effect of love and magic. And magic abounds here. Today we are absorbed in tech and forget that we still need religion, which in the universe of Stink is indeed magic.”

–Chris Stein

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