Nightmare Trails at Knifepoint

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In a time of twitter novels and short stories laid out a 140 characters at a time, Nicholas Rombes, author of A Cultural Dictionary of Punk 1974-1982, is going in a different direction.

Nightmare Trails at Knifepoint is, as Rombes puts it, “a lightning-flashed noir, a haunted detective novel for our disordered age.” It stars Ephraim P. Noble, a mysterious character who somehow managed to help Rombes write CDoP, lives in an “underground tunnel system,” and corresponds with Rombes via courier. [Editor's Note: Ephraim P. Noble may or may not actually exist.]

Now for the weird part. Rombes is publishing NTaK via the U.S. Postal Service. Not online. Not on his Facebook page. But stuffed into small manila envelopes, addressed by hand, with personal messages typed out on old hotel stationary and delivered right to your doorstep. Rombes explains:

As a lover of sequential, serialized narrative, I found that the most natural way to publish Ephraim’s strange odyssey was through a series of pamphlets, each one between 6 to 20 pages long, and each with a cliffhanger ending. [...] I also loved the idea of telling his story in paper format, so that the story being told is more than the story itself, but also the medium of its publication. In other words, the pamphlets are worth keeping, featuring full-color covers and, sometimes, inserts.

(Full disclosure: Nicholas has already sent me a couple of installments of NTaK, and they are indeed “worth keeping.”)

The subscription period runs from January 2010 to January 2011 and only costs $18 for the entire year. Each month Rombes will mail you a “fresh, new installment of Nightmare Trails, in beautiful pamphlet form.” Some will “include an original, one-of-a-kind piece of writing/art from Ephraim” himself. To learn more about Nightmare Trails at Knifepoint and the elusive Ephraim P. Noble click here.

You can also, of course, follow @NicholasRombes on twitter.


Isaac Fitzgerald has been a firefighter, worked on a boat, and been given a sword by a king, thereby accomplishing three out of five of his childhood goals. He has also written for The Bold Italic, McSweeney's, Mother Jones, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He is a co-owner of The Rumpus. Follow him on Twitter. More from this author →