Monday, February 23, 2009

El Amor: A Story Beginning in Spanish

El Amor deserves to be published in our new issue of Imaginary Literary Magazine because it collapses the boy meets girl story into a condensed, powerful form. The anxiety, the attraction, the strange things we do (stopping five steps away): all of these are the building blocks of the romance story. Here we also have the spectator, the unseen observer who gives us his/her own opinion on it all, with traces of Spanish sentiments. The moment is turned into a dance, Flamenco or bolero, scripted into DNA, and the entire scene is one beautiful, natural performance. At the end the observer reminds us how it was they observed this scenario, leaning out the window at the threat of their own life. That instant is potent.

I also appreciate how the touch of Spanish affects this story. Most of the words are simple enough for anyone with no Spanish language background to understand. Those that aren't and to the slightly exotic feel of the story. The author gave us just enough to be intrigued without surfeit of detail or loss of narrative significance.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just a Little Bit Late

The readings for January 28 were enlightening. As a student employee at OU Press, I thought I fully knew what the basic process of publishing a book was. It turns out I was hampered by my own perceptions. I knew that the editor selected the manuscript and had to explain to the others why such a manuscript would be good for the press to publish. I guess I didn't realize that he or she literally edits. I think of that as the job of the copyediting staff. In this way, the "What is an Editor?" article opened my eyes to what the people around me are doing. I'm getting just a little more insight to how a book is published.

The position is similar to an editor of a literary magazine in the role of mediating between author and press and selecting work. The line by Schuster that says an editor "cannot afford the luxury of being color-blind. He must be able to distinguish between black ink and red" still applies. Editors of both have to know when the publishing process is worth it. However, the book editor runs on an entirely different schedule. A book generally takes over a year to publish from acceptance to printing. They may plan in what season/quarter a book will be released, but the rush isn't for a spring issue of their quarterly. Each individual manuscript is magnified into a work-intensive, time-consuming project.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where are LitMags Going?

I think the three readings for today should be ranked as different points along a spectrum. Ultimately the question is do we keep literary magazines alive? The Wet Asphalt article says yes, but change it up a bit in format, but keep it in print. Jodee Stanley's commentary says maybe they should go online and try new things. The Harpoonist piece is all for the destruction of the printed magazine and perhaps even the concept of the anthologies created by litmags.

I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the article in Wet Asphalt. Why can't literary magazines look more like magazines? Once a month glossies would surely be cheaper and you'd get around the marketing problem. Fill it with just enough in the way of poems and short stories to get a reasonable length and incorporate some artistic photography to make use of that glossy paper. Charge about $5 an issue and you could, theoretically, make some money. Stanley believes printed magazines can co-exist peacefully alongside web-based counterparts, and I have no objections to that idea either.

In fact, I really don't take any offense until the Harpoonist piece tells me that literary magazines are dead. Someone is clearly still buying them. People are still interested. Internet-based collections may be the way to go, but leaving each writer to their own devices publishing-wise is not the best plan for the literature of the future. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'm not going to seek out every "brilliant, strange, new, marginalized writer with a Blogger account" that wants to be heard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

First Assignment

I am particularly fond of the round table in the Mississippi Review because it is a transcript of an actual discussion. The speakers are quite candid about their opinions, and they're right. Magazines are there because wider commercial printing won't take the risks on a pile of strange new things. If it won't sell, they can't afford to print it, and if it's unproven as a sell-able item, why should they take a risk? Literary magazines give new ideas a place to express themselves to a wider audience.

Jill Rosser's commentary on the magazine as the replacement of the salon that doesn't "really happen[] anymore" is a testament to the evolution of technology and the desire to reach a larger audience. As printing became cheaper, circulation increased. A small circle of intellectuals can now reach out into hundreds and thousands and more through the printed word. This does logically lead to the internet, an almost free resource for millions of people. I agree with Todd Zuniga's evaluation that we tend to value print magazines over online magazines because of an imaginary standard of quality, because a printed magazine has to limit quantity, so it must have higher standards for its submissions. We like the permanence of tangible printed matter, and that helps, too. Web-based publications do help the realm of literary magazines by taking more writers and increasing interest in literary works, but I think they both need to exist simultaneously for either one to reach its full potential.

The only downside I see for literary magazines is that they need some form of support, and often they have to rely on their sales to get that support, and in order to make a sale, they have to please an audience. Pleasing that audience might mean not publishing the really new and novel pieces, but then again, maybe transitioning gradually is the key. I, however, draw the line at performance art on YouTube.