The Roundup

There’s some good stuff hitting the ‘sphere.

First off, Jimmy Beck takes down New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman — specifically, over the insufferable Ann Beattie story now hitting mailboxes. Now the New Yorker still publishes good fiction (that last T.C. Boyle story comes immediately to mind), but if you need a hard dose of the Genuine Article, the latest Ploughshares (featuring a hearty offering of young writers handpicked by others) and a subscription to the always reliable ZYZZYVA or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction might be a start. It would be foolish to declare that the New Yorker has jumped the shark. But I would love — just love — for the New Yorker to publish something gritty, something that would reduce us all to tears, if only to subvert the de rigueur digression of McSweeney’s and the overall obsession with upscale Caucasians living in upstate New York complaining about things that a few rounds of therapy couldn’t cure. Why not commission Edward Jones (now the proud winner of the Pulitzer) or Colson Whitehead or Dorothy Allison or someone like Kathy Acker or anyone, goddam anyone, to write about the seamy side of life? At the very least, it might leave a few Caucasians clutching their claret with greater alacrity. But then that’s what fiction is about, isn’t it? Leave in the umlauts for words like “reentry” and spell “role” in that funky way. That’s why we love the New Yorker. And besides, that isn’t the issue. Treisman needs to understand that it’s the 21st century.

Then there’s Laila looking into the Zoo Press deal. I’ve received no callbacks from Azevedo either. But I’ll keep trying. On the Atlantic front, I’ve been playing telephone tag with a very nice lady in the advertising department. Don’t know if I’ll get any answers, but I’ll keep you folks posted.

The illustrious Mark Sarvas remains in New York, but he has, to my considerable astonishment, checked in here when he should be doing other things. Do visit The Elegant Variation and keep Scott Handy some company. He’s doing a fine yeoman’s job at guest blogging this week.

Sam promises to offer a series this week devoted to narrative elements.

There are two big questions at About Last Night: (1) Who’s feeding Terry the Rockstars? and (2) Where the sam hill is OGIC?

And Dan Green (recent winner of the FOG Index contest) has been on a roll too. He takes on literary contest scams, reviewer biases and (bravely) James Wood.

And visit the good folks on the left while you’re at it.

All good stuff. Joe Bob says check it out.


  1. What, no love?

    Anyway, Kathy Acker’s dead, but point well taken. I have no doubt she’d still turn out something better than Ann Beattie can. I’d even take Alice Freakin’ Munro, and I don’t say that lightly.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more about F & SF — I wish more people read that magazine. There’s always at least _one_ excellent story, and usually more. And if you look at the magazine’s sales figures, they just keep going down, down, down.

    Give gift subscriptions!

    Oh, and of course, free and online and publishing some of the best stories out there (because they pay the most in the genre, natch) Sci-Fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow on the Sci-Fi Channel’s website (for those that don’t regular read this, it runs the gamut of spec fic, not just science fiction). I’d particularly recommend the John Kessel, Richard Butner and Andy Duncan stories published there recently.

  3. Rake: Of course there’s love for you! Lots of it, man. You were, after all, the clearest of the bunch in that FOG test. What does a man need to do these days?

    Kathy Acker’s one of those authors whose death I continue to deny. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Funny how I can come to terms with my other big fave, Carol Shields, being in the grave. Why do some authors die and some remain living? 🙂

    Birnbaum: I missed the Jim Harrison story. Thanks. Will check it out.

    Bondgirl: It’s a great magazine. Definitely always one story that knocks it out of the ballpark. (“The Fluted Girl” was one in particular that stood out, as has just about anything written by Ellen Klages.) has reviews up for the curious.

    Jimmy: Just so long as I’m not a gym coach resembling Ballmer.

    Dan: Sadly, no. But deconstructionists will be knocking on your door next week. Look out.

  4. Aw, Ed, I was just breakin’ your balls. Acker lives. And don’t think I’m not still strutting over my blog writing “accolade.”

  5. Nice blog. Just read your bit on the New Yorker, and as you readily admit, it’s pretty clear to me you don’t actually read the magazine. Over the last two years, there have been a number of excellent stories, dealing with a range of people in a range of situations from seedy to fantastic. I wish I could do a better job of remembering the names, but there have been stories about: indian shamans, retired african-american military officers, a comic book hero, some place that may have been heaven, cattle ranchers (two or three of those for some reason), etc, etc. In fact, i can only think of a few stories, two of which were written by updike, that fit into the category everyone laments– white, protestant, boring.


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