In the print literary magazines

The San Francisco Chronicle has run a longer print version of David Kipen’s NPR review (which I mentioned previously) of recent additions to the California literary magazine scene. I’ve already said that the first issue of Swink impressed me. (Many of my acquaintances were impressed, too, and by different stories, which I think is the hallmark of a good literary magazine debut). I’ve heard positive things about Black Clock although I haven’t read it. I didn’t know of The Los Angeles Review until Kipen clued me in to it, but I’ll be sure to track it down.

Here on the East Coast, the second issue of Land-Grant College Review will be shipping soon, and you can place your order online. Nelly Reifler and Roy Kesey are among the contributors. A boozeful launch party is scheduled in Brooklyn this weekend, and the editors told me last month that the launch party will be just that — a party, not a reading.

Kevin Larimer reports in the latest issue of Poets & Writers on the financial troubles that have plagued DoubleTake, the quarterly magazine founded by Robert Coles at Duke University in 1995, and on the plans for a new issue this summer:

After initial funding in the form of a $10 million grant from the Tennessee-based Lyndhurst Foundation, DoubleTake lost its support from Duke and in 1999 moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, where the remaining grant money dried up and the magazine slowly sank into debt. Subsequent grants from various organizations failed to steady the ship. Even Bruce Springsteen-that’s right, the Boss-tried to bail out the magazine by performing a couple of benefit concerts last February, but the money he raised didn’t last. The magazine has been on publishing hiatus for the last year while Coles and the staff figured out what to do. “We decided to close the magazine, to pay off our debts, and to completely clean up our act from a business perspective,” says executive editor R. Jay Magill. If all goes well, DoubleTake will relaunch this summer as a bimonthly with a new staff and renewed editorial vigor. “The editorial will shift a little bit,” Magill says. “We feel like it’s gotten a little staid and a little stuffy in the last couple of years, but we believe that the essence of the magazine is still salvageable and really powerful.” According to Magill, the mix of poetry, fiction, essays, photographs, and artwork that readers came to appreciate in the original publication will be “more punchy” and have “a little more edge.” Here’s a thought: If money’s the problem, why not start a literary contest? Everyone else is.

Cynthia Weiner has a new story in Ploughshares, and while I’m not quite as smitten with it as I was with last year’s harrowing and exquisite piece in Open City, it’s fresh, smart and funny — in other words, worth a read. She’s one of the better young writers publishing in print literary magazines at the moment. You can read a nonfiction piece of Weiner’s, Dear Ms. Occupant, online at Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.


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