August 13th, 2010 / 12:36 pm
Uncategorized

The First Rule of Literary Magazine Club: Join

I’ve been thinking lately it would be interesting to have a book club where instead of books, the participants read and discuss literary magazines, both in print and online. So often, there is a tendency to read casually, without reflection, and while there’s nothing wrong with that (I’m a fan), there are so many amazing magazines out there worthy of discussion. Often when I set an issue of a magazine down, I feel like I’m not done with it yet, like I want to talk about the writing I’ve just read but there aren’t many people in my life who would be interested in hearing about expectorating orifices or the way that one writer used repetition in really interesting ways or how that other writer tells the sexiest stories or how the last poem in the issue was really quite terrible with a detailed rant as to why.

Is a literary magazine club something you would be interested in joining? What format would you like to see the club follow? What kinds of things should we talk about? What magazines would you like to read? Should we get matching outfits? What should we call ourselves?

I’ve just started thinking through the logistics of a literary magazine club. It would be great to alternate from month to month between print and online magazines.  I’d like to kick things off on October 1 with NY Tyrant 8. Who’s with me? (If you are, drop me a line at roxane at roxanegay dot com and I’ll keep you informed of what’s what.)

ETA: Editors, if you want our club to read your magazine and want to offer members a discount, let me know!

100 Comments

  1. Nathan Goldman

      I think this is a remarkable idea.

      Off the top of my head the journals I’d be most interested in discussing would be McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Zoetrope: All-Story.

  2. Matt

      Shameless plug: you should discuss our first online issue at TriQuarterly.

  3. Owen Kaelin

      Heh. This brings back memories… .

      No offense: I’ll give it a go.

  4. Lincoln

      Magazines are cool

  5. Richard

      I love this! I would prefer that the magazines being read were of the smaller variety (Annalemma, Artifice, Big Lucks, Pank, Hobart, etc.) but that’s just my tastes.

  6. Dan Brady

      Count me in. How about Supermachine #2? Coming this fall.

  7. Zachary Bos

      TriQuarterly would be a great place to begin. For a reading group, I’d want publications that mix literary writing with commentary, so the discussion doesn’t falter in the thick of interpretation and evaluation.

      I’d also like sitting down with Boston Review, Arion, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, Mississippi Review, APR, and Literary Imagination, I think, would all foster good discussion.

      This sounds quite a bit like what scientists do at their journal meetings. Whatever science does, I think literature should do, too. (E.g., publish; research; experiment; theorize; prove; debate; debunk; and so on.)

  8. Fawn

      It’s come to my attention that, although there are plenty of online communities based around commercial and genre fiction for both readers and writers alike, there’s barely ANYTHING available for literary fiction lovers. And short story lovers are certainly undersupported.

      I say “Hell yes?”

      You can quote me on that.

  9. Alex

      It would be nice if the print mags are common enough to be found everywhere. I know this is a little limiting, but Buford, GA is not a mecca of small literary publications.

  10. Sara Faye Lieber

      i’m in.

  11. Roxane Gay

      Yes, but fortunately, any magazine we read will be available to purchase (or read for free) online. I live in rural Illinois.

  12. Mary Miller

      This sounds like fun. I’d be interested in reading/discussing Salt Hill, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Black Clock, Hobart, and Willow Springs, among others, and also reading some online mags that I don’t know anything about, etc.

      What if we rotated months, with each person picking a mag?

  13. Roxane Gay

      I think that’s a great idea, Mary, having different people pick each month’s magazine.

  14. Joseph Riippi

      Sounds like a great time. I agree with Mary–would want to balance the better-knowns (a la Tyrant, most of the others listed here already) with some of the online-only lesser knowns.

  15. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      This is a great idea.

      Selfishly (and impossibly), I wish it could somehow be limited to the unread journal issues I’ve already got lying around. Like New York Tyrant 6. And a stack of Copper Nickels, Keyholes, Ninth Letters, Redividers, Salt Hills, Crazyhorses & Missouris. (the last two b.c of contest entries).

  16. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      just like a book club!

  17. Another Richard

      Great idea. I’d be down for this.

      TJY I second the nomination of Copper Nickel, as I also have some sitting here. I’d be down for Annalemma too, Hobart, Juked, Keyhole, PANK, Missouri Review, Canteen, Fence, McSweeney’s, Black Clock, GUD, Pear Noir!, Vain, redivider, Sleepingfish, etc.

      These are all journals/rags I’ve read and really enjoyed.

  18. Roxane Gay

      I love Canteen.

  19. Roxane Gay

      Maybe we can get the editor(s) of a magazine to talk with us (borrowing heavily from The Rumpus Book Club). Exciting.

  20. People From Mars

      Great idea. NY Tyrant 8! Caketrain, Pank, Noon!

  21. People From Mars

      Oh, and Gigantic!

  22. Stephen Elliott

      This is a great idea. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned running The Rumpus Book Club.

  23. Roxane Gay

      That would be excellent, Stephen! I like to learn. Your book club started the idea in my head.

  24. Lincoln

      I’m sure editors would love to participate in something like this for questions. We certainly would.

  25. BAC

      I live on the ass end of a heat wave, and even I get mail and internet.

      I mean, I’ve got to go through a checkpoint to go see my momma. dog’s sniff my fucking car. they ask if my baby’s a citizen.

  26. Dustin Luke Nelson

      Just voicing support for this. It could be a great project in general and a good opportunity to survey the print and online landscape for lit mags. I love it.

  27. Nathan Goldman

      I think this is a remarkable idea.

      Off the top of my head the journals I’d be most interested in discussing would be McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Zoetrope: All-Story.

  28. Matt

      Shameless plug: you should discuss our first online issue at TriQuarterly.

  29. Owen Kaelin

      Heh. This brings back memories… .

      No offense: I’ll give it a go.

  30. magick mike

      Roxane, where do you live? I always assumed you lived in Chicago for some reason.

  31. magick mike

      I am interested in this, but don’t always have scratch to order a million lit mags (though one every two months probably wouldn’t break the bank). Because of this, I will suggest the following that I either already have subscriptions to or know I’ll be buying/reading:

      Chicago Review, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Artifice, LIES/ISLE (yeah yeah shameless plug, of course), No Colony, PANK, Black Warrior Review

      I also have a stack of completely-unread-except-for-the-first issues of 3rd Bed, seems like a lot of people (like me) bought issues when Calamari was having it’s sale, so I’ll go ahead and suggest those as well.

  32. Lincoln

      Magazines are cool

  33. Richard

      I love this! I would prefer that the magazines being read were of the smaller variety (Annalemma, Artifice, Big Lucks, Pank, Hobart, etc.) but that’s just my tastes.

  34. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Until very recently, Roxane lived and was completing her phd on the upper peninsula of Michigan.

      Now she has relocated to and is about to start teaching in central IL.

  35. Dan Brady

      Count me in. How about Supermachine #2? Coming this fall.

  36. Zachary_Bos

      TriQuarterly would be a great place to begin. For a reading group, I’d want publications that mix literary writing with commentary, so the discussion doesn’t falter in the thick of interpretation and evaluation.

      I’d also like sitting down with Boston Review, Arion, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, Mississippi Review, APR, and Literary Imagination, I think, would all foster good discussion.

      This sounds quite a bit like what scientists do at their journal meetings. Whatever science does, I think literature should do, too. (E.g., publish; research; experiment; theorize; prove; debate; debunk; and so on.)

  37. Fawn

      It’s come to my attention that, although there are plenty of online communities based around commercial and genre fiction for both readers and writers alike, there’s barely ANYTHING available for literary fiction lovers. And short story lovers are certainly undersupported.

      I say “Hell yes?”

      You can quote me on that.

  38. Dan Wickett

      Count me in–and maybe to go with Mary’s idea, it would be cool if it rotated between print and online so that those low in funds can join up not worrying about having to shell out every single month?

      I know that Gian is going to do an EWN/Tyrant series like the EWN/Unsaid series, discussing each piece that he publishes in the issue. My guess is that he’d be up for editor participation in the club.

  39. magick mike

      does central illinois mean bloomington/normal?

  40. Alex

      It would be nice if the print mags are common enough to be found everywhere. I know this is a little limiting, but Buford, GA is not a mecca of small literary publications.

  41. Sara Faye Lieber

      i’m in.

  42. Roxane Gay

      Yes, but fortunately, any magazine we read will be available to purchase (or read for free) online. I live in rural Illinois.

  43. Mary Miller

      This sounds like fun. I’d be interested in reading/discussing Salt Hill, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Black Clock, Hobart, and Willow Springs, among others, and also reading some online mags that I don’t know anything about, etc.

      What if we rotated months, with each person picking a mag?

  44. Roxane Gay

      I think that’s a great idea, Mary, having different people pick each month’s magazine.

  45. Joseph Riippi

      Sounds like a great time. I agree with Mary–would want to balance the better-knowns (a la Tyrant, most of the others listed here already) with some of the online-only lesser knowns.

  46. Brandon Hobson

      Maybe check out Iron Horse Literary Review. My friend Eric Neuenfeldt just won the single author competition for his collection (I’m currently writing a review of it to appear here at HTML Giant).

  47. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      This is a great idea.

      Selfishly (and impossibly), I wish it could somehow be limited to the unread journal issues I’ve already got lying around. Like New York Tyrant 6. And a stack of Copper Nickels, Keyholes, Ninth Letters, Redividers, Salt Hills, Crazyhorses & Missouris. (the last two b.c of contest entries).

  48. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      just like a book club!

  49. Another Richard

      Great idea. I’d be down for this.

      TJY I second the nomination of Copper Nickel, as I also have some sitting here. I’d be down for Annalemma too, Hobart, Juked, Keyhole, PANK, Missouri Review, Canteen, Fence, McSweeney’s, Black Clock, GUD, Pear Noir!, Vain, redivider, Sleepingfish, etc.

      These are all journals/rags I’ve read and really enjoyed.

  50. Merzmensch

      Absolutely. Actually I wonder, whether this idea was already realized somewhere. Sometimes, there is so many things to discuss about a literary journal.

  51. Roxane Gay

      I love Canteen.

  52. Roxane Gay

      Maybe we can get the editor(s) of a magazine to talk with us (borrowing heavily from The Rumpus Book Club). Exciting.

  53. People From Mars

      Great idea. NY Tyrant 8! Caketrain, Pank, Noon!

  54. People From Mars

      Oh, and Gigantic!

  55. Stephen Elliott

      This is a great idea. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned running The Rumpus Book Club.

  56. Roxane Gay

      That would be excellent, Stephen! I like to learn. Your book club started the idea in my head.

  57. Lincoln

      I’m sure editors would love to participate in something like this for questions. We certainly would.

  58. BAC

      I live on the ass end of a heat wave, and even I get mail and internet.

      I mean, I’ve got to go through a checkpoint to go see my momma. dog’s sniff my fucking car. they ask if my baby’s a citizen.

  59. Dustin

      Just voicing support for this. It could be a great project in general and a good opportunity to survey the print and online landscape for lit mags. I love it.

  60. Travis Kurowski

      Think this is a fabulous idea. (And think Rumpus Book Club is a great model.) NYT is great first choice. Please count me in. Would love to promote it in any way I can.

  61. magick mike

      Roxane, where do you live? I always assumed you lived in Chicago for some reason.

  62. magick mike

      I am interested in this, but don’t always have scratch to order a million lit mags (though one every two months probably wouldn’t break the bank). Because of this, I will suggest the following that I either already have subscriptions to or know I’ll be buying/reading:

      Chicago Review, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Artifice, LIES/ISLE (yeah yeah shameless plug, of course), No Colony, PANK, Black Warrior Review

      I also have a stack of completely-unread-except-for-the-first issues of 3rd Bed, seems like a lot of people (like me) bought issues when Calamari was having it’s sale, so I’ll go ahead and suggest those as well.

  63. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Until very recently, Roxane lived and was completing her phd on the upper peninsula of Michigan.

      Now she has relocated to and is about to start teaching in central IL.

  64. Dan Wickett

      Count me in–and maybe to go with Mary’s idea, it would be cool if it rotated between print and online so that those low in funds can join up not worrying about having to shell out every single month?

      I know that Gian is going to do an EWN/Tyrant series like the EWN/Unsaid series, discussing each piece that he publishes in the issue. My guess is that he’d be up for editor participation in the club.

  65. magick mike

      does central illinois mean bloomington/normal?

  66. Brandon Hobson

      Maybe check out Iron Horse Literary Review. My friend Eric Neuenfeldt just won the single author competition for his collection (I’m currently writing a review of it to appear here at HTML Giant).

  67. Merzmensch

      Absolutely. Actually I wonder, whether this idea was already realized somewhere. Sometimes, there is so many things to discuss about a literary journal.

  68. Travis Kurowski

      Think this is a fabulous idea. (And think Rumpus Book Club is a great model.) NYT is great first choice. Please count me in. Would love to promote it in any way I can.

  69. Roxane Gay

      mike, no. I’m in Charleston which is 47 miles south of Champaign Urbana.

  70. Roxane Gay

      mike, no. I’m in Charleston which is 47 miles south of Champaign Urbana.

  71. Slogger

      Mag Hags?

  72. Didi Menendez

      Finally….It only has taken since the start of the internet for someone to come up with this idea. My magazines are available for reading online in full but I will send the president of your club a free copy per issue if you send me the name and address of your head honcho.

  73. Tracy Lucas

      And what shall the name of the lit mag club be?

      I’m so in.

      (And Smash Cake, hint hint, though not for another month or two.)

  74. magick mike

      Ah, okay. My family used to stop in that town regularly on the way back from vacations, or something, I don’t remember the specifics. I’m just always curious about people who end up living in towns I’ve lived in, for whatever reason.

  75. adam j maynard

      My Name is Mud

  76. Slogger

      Mag Hags?

  77. Didi Menendez

      Finally….It only has taken since the start of the internet for someone to come up with this idea. My magazines are available for reading online in full but I will send the president of your club a free copy per issue if you send me the name and address of your head honcho.

  78. Tracy Lucas

      And what shall the name of the lit mag club be?

      I’m so in.

      (And Smash Cake, hint hint, though not for another month or two.)

  79. magick mike

      Ah, okay. My family used to stop in that town regularly on the way back from vacations, or something, I don’t remember the specifics. I’m just always curious about people who end up living in towns I’ve lived in, for whatever reason.

  80. adam j maynard

      My Name is Mud

  81. Amy

      This is great! I’m loving Tin House, Zoetrope,
      Fourth Genre, Granta, Ploughshares, mayb Glimmertrain,
      Electric Lit, Black Warrior Review…

  82. Dawn.

      This is a fabulous idea.

  83. Amy

      This is great! I’m loving Tin House, Zoetrope,
      Fourth Genre, Granta, Ploughshares, mayb Glimmertrain,
      Electric Lit, Black Warrior Review…

  84. Genia Shipman

      Great idea. I’m woefully under-read when it comes to literary journals. Count me in!

  85. Dawn.

      This is a fabulous idea.

  86. Genia Shipman

      Great idea. I’m woefully under-read when it comes to literary journals. Count me in!

  87. Sam

      There’s a great lit journal culture in Australia; you’d have no problems getting your mits on any number of stellar and varied reads. Off the top of my head I’m thinking of the long-standing publications: Overland, Voiceworks, Meanjin and Griffith Review, as well as the newer and more unconventional: Cutwater, Torpedo, The Lifted Brow and Kill Your Darlings

  88. Sam

      There’s a great lit journal culture in Australia; you’d have no problems getting your mits on any number of stellar and varied reads. Off the top of my head I’m thinking of the long-standing publications: Overland, Voiceworks, Meanjin and Griffith Review, as well as the newer and more unconventional: Cutwater, Torpedo, The Lifted Brow and Kill Your Darlings

  89. Jordan Greenaway

      I’m certainly up for this.

  90. Jordan Greenaway

      I’m certainly up for this.

  91. A T Brunner

      I’m in! I am never aware enough of what my contemporaries are up to, including boning up on literary magazines.

  92. A T Brunner

      I’m in! I am never aware enough of what my contemporaries are up to, including boning up on literary magazines.

  93. Nancy Smith

      Sounds like a wonderful idea! Looks like there is already a great list of mags going. Here’s a few more that might be included– American Short Fiction, The Normal School, Five Dials, Five Chapters, A Public Space. And a shameless plug to include my own magazine– Stumble. I love this whole idea!

  94. Jen Woods

      Roxane–please count Lumberyard in! I owe you a letter to boot, so hopefully we’ll talk soon.

  95. Nancy Smith

      Sounds like a wonderful idea! Looks like there is already a great list of mags going. Here’s a few more that might be included– American Short Fiction, The Normal School, Five Dials, Five Chapters, A Public Space. And a shameless plug to include my own magazine– Stumble. I love this whole idea!

  96. Jen Woods

      Roxane–please count Lumberyard in! I owe you a letter to boot, so hopefully we’ll talk soon.

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  99. meghan

      Water~Stone Review is an annual out of Hamline University in Minnesota. And in the vein of VQR and The Sun, not only do they publish new fiction, CNF and poetry (an interview and book reviews as well) they also publish a photo gallery of work by emerging and world renown photographers. It’s gorgeous and substantial.

  100. meghan

      Water~Stone Review is an annual out of Hamline University in Minnesota. And in the vein of VQR and The Sun, not only do they publish new fiction, CNF and poetry (an interview and book reviews as well) they also publish a photo gallery of work by emerging and world renown photographers. It’s gorgeous and substantial.