Kooks and the Kook Tradition

April 24, 1998

7:00 pm
Tigard Water Building, 8777 SW Burnham, Tigard, Oregon

Donna Kossy, author

Donna Kossy, an expert on “kooks,” is author of Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief and is the designer of the outstanding website The Kooks Museum. Kossy is a 1979 graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where she studied mathematics, computer science and analytical philosophy. Her career as a kook “expert” started as a hobby. In 1979, she began collecting odd publications and old magazines, mainly as source material for collages. By 1984, she was publishing her own small magazine False Positive, which featured collage art, found material and satire. Though circulation was only about 100 copies, it was often written up in the mainstream press and had a devoted following, largely due to one feature: the Kooks Pages. In the Kooks Pages, she reprinted some of her favorite kook flyers, many of which were handed to her in downtown San Francisco where she worked as a computer programmer.

After eleven issues of False Positive, Kossy decided to concentrate exclusively on kooks and inaugurated Kooks Magazine. By this time her readers were sending her boxes full of kook materials. The new magazine included researched, detailed articles on kooks in addition to reprinted flyers and excerpts. After eight issues, she called it quits on Kooks Magazine and relocated to Portland with her partner Ken DeVries. She soon met Adam Parfrey of Feral House, who offered her a contract for a book on Kooks. Since then she has been working as a freelance writer and researcher. In 1995, she created the website the Kooks Museum <http://www.teleport.com/~dkossy/> which to her surprise led to a great deal of media attention. She has recently begun publishing a new ‘zine, Book Happy, which focuses on all kinds of oddball publications, not just kooks. Kossy’s second book, currently tentatively titled Aberrant Anthropology, will be out in the spring of 1999 from Feral House publishers.

There will be a limited number of copies of Kossy’s book and other materials on sale at the talk. If you already have her book and would like it signed, bring it that evening.