My last post – “How To Launch A Literary Journal” – highlighted some glaring problems with the current landscape of literary magazines today. Heads turned!
Stephen Burt responded to my allegations in the pages of The New Yorker. In “The Persistence of Litmags,” Burt admits that there is, in fact, a “surprisingly weak correlation between operating a literary magazine and writing clear, cliché-free prose.”
Really? But aren’t they supposed to accept only the best writing? Hm.
He goes on to say: “What a new litmag should not be is simply a farm team: we already have plenty of those.” I believe there he is talking about the Brooklyn Nets. Or perhaps the New York Yankees. He continues: “If you don’t have a particular aesthetic… or a kind of writing you want to promote, you might seek editorial experience…” Haha! “Maybe you just want to boost your friends.”
One of my best friends is Lorin Stein (although he doesn’t know it yet). But I have yet to get published in his little journal – The Paris Review. If only I had not lost his number (AHEM). I would compose a SMS textual message to remind him of how talented I am.
Burt concludes with some poignant advice.
“A new journal needs a reason to exist, a gap that earlier journals failed to fill, a new form of pleasure, a new kind of writing, an alliance with a new or under-chronicled social movement… a program that will actually change some small part of some literary readers’ tastes.”
Change OUR tastes? Aha! Haha! But my taste is impeccable. I read The New Yorker, don’t I? And if any publication has a reason to exist, it is that austere magazine. It obviously exists as a visual signal to indicate who is well-read and who isn’t. That’s why I prefer to read it in public places where humans can see me, such as on subway cars, street corners, cafe lines, and roller coasters.
All in all, an intelligent and thoughtful response to my buzzworthy post on literary journaling. Did The New Yorker get it right? Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org