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Posts Tagged ‘literary magazines’

Blunt the Edge

July 22, 2014 | by

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Detail from the cover of The Baffler’s eighth issue; art by Archer Prewitt.

The Baffler, which has probably the best slogan of any magazine in history—“the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge”—has made all of its back issues available for free online: required reading for anyone interested in the tenor of criticism and analysis in the nineties and early aughts, if that’s what we’ve decided to call them.

For starters, I recommend Tom Vanderbilt on SKYY vodka’s ridiculous original campaign, which was predicated on the myth that it was “hangover free” (“built on that distinctly American quest to find magic formulas to indulge more and suffer less”); or Kim Phillips-Fein’s “Lotteryville, USA,” a powerful screed against the ills of the lottery as an institution; or Terri Kapsalis’s “Making Babies the American Girl Way,” a terrifying meditation on multicultural dolls, artificial insemination, and designer babies; or, perhaps my personal favorite, Steve Albini’s “The Problem with Music,” a terse, caustic critique of the record industry at the height of yuppie-ism and major-label excess. Its scorched-earth opening:

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.

Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says, “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim it again, please. Backstroke.”

And he does, of course.

If arch anticapitalist rhetoric and scatological takedowns of corporate media aren’t your cuppa, The Baffler publishes a nice variety of fiction and poetry, too. Have at it.

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TPR vs. n+1: Vindication

June 14, 2012 | by

Team    |1|2|3|4|5|6|7  Total

TPR     |0|0|4|0|0|7|X   11
n+1     |0|0|0|1|0|0|0    1

Last Monday afternoon two literary magazines played a softball game. As you can see by the above scoreboard, Team Paris Review won handily. The short version: we played quite well—hitting sharp singles and putting the fun in fundamentals and whatnot—while n+1 was ... not at their best. Whether it was due to the absence of baseball’s most notorious novelist, Chad Harbach, or an off day on the mound by noted scoundrel Marco Roth, “the best goddamn literary magazine in America” (—Mary Karr) lacked its usual vigor and fortitude. Digging deep into the archives, it appears this is a new development: one of the most heartbreaking defeats in TPR softball history came two years ago against this very squad. Our victory, while certainly a boon for all things moral and just, failed to properly quench our thirst for vengeance, leaving us instead with a numb, hollow “meh” feeling, a sensation that, I would imagine, is akin to eating a piece of cake that is neither chocolate nor made out of ice cream.

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Alice Munro’s First Story, Rediscovered

May 10, 2012 | by

Miss Abelhart came out of the church alone. Her feet made quick, sharp, certain sounds on the cement steps—not the light tapping sounds pumps make, but harder, heavier claps. Miss Abelhart was wearing oxfords. She wore also a light tweed coat, a straight ugly coat, and an absurd little black hat. Most of her clothes were chosen for their ugliness or absurdity, and she wore them with a certain defiance, as though she proudly recognized in them a drabness closely akin to her own.

She was not ugly or absurd, in herself, only a little dried and hollowed, with straw hair tightly and tastelessly curled, and skin somewhat roughened, as if she had been for a long time facing a harsh wind. There was no blood in her cheeks, and something like dust lay over her face. People who looked at her knew that she was old, and had been old always. She was thirty-three.

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Vote for TPR in the Tournament of Lit Mags!

April 4, 2012 | by

Final 4 Bracket

Dear readers,

This is a matter of honor. If you love and believe in The Paris Review, now is the time to show what our fans are made of. We are currently in the Final Four of the Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour Tournament of Literary Magazines.

As they explain,

“[Oxford American] will now take on another program with a shining pedigree, The Paris Review, in what promises to be a battle of titans. The surprises this year are all on the other side of the bracket. Many thought that the Georgia program had grown too old and could never return to its glory days under coach Lindberg, but their execution has been flawless, and they play a measured style that has everyone buzzing about the old days. The real Cinderella story of the tourney, however, has been Ecotone, a tiny program that, thanks in part to the recruiting pull of recent grad (and power forward) Edith Pearlman, has made a surprising run, littering the courts with higher seeds.“

You know what to do. (If you don’t, it’s vote in comments.) You gotta believe.

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