Longreads

Ken Layne is the writer, editor, and publisher of the Desert Oracle, a bright-yellow “field guide to the desert that covers the “strange tales, singing sand dunes, sagebrush trails, artists and aliens, authors and oddballs, ghost towns and modern legends, musicians and mystics, scorpions and saguaros” of the Joshua Tree region in California. We spoke with him after the publication of a recent profile in Pacific Standard, in which he explained how he designs and delivers each issue himself to desert outposts with as little as 30 people. 

Aaron Gilbreath: You grew up in the desert. Where exactly did you grow up in Phoenix?

Ken Layne: I was born and mostly raised in New Orleans, far from any desert, but I lived in Phoenix during the formative middle-school years. First on the poor side around Buckeye and Seventh Avenue ─ old Phoenix, a shack behind my…

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