Nick Ripatrazone—perhaps this country’s biggest promoter of lit mags in the classroom—asked readers “What is the best single issue of any literary magazine?” The responsewas astounding, with some fantastic suggestions: Conjunctions #29, McSweeney’s #32, Tin House #40, New York Tyrant #3, The Lumberyard #4, New American Review #1, TriQuarterly #56, Evergreen Review #1, Vertex #1, Swink #1, BLAST #1—I guess lots of first issues. My own pick was Location #2, an obscure, Donald Barthelme edited, and short-lived publication. Ripatrazone’s best? Granta 8: Dirty Realism. Hard to argue with.
A couple of lit mag panels to enjoy at AWP in Washington DC this coming February: “Beyond Times New Roman: The Literary Journal as Object,” with Versal, 1913, Ninth Letter, Lumberyard, 6×6, and Luna Park—and “Building the Literary Robot: The Lit Journal as New Media,” with Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, Fictionaut (!), featherproof books, Octopus Magazine & Books, and (again) Luna Park.
And you can follow up these panels with “Journal Porn” at Black Squirrel (the home turf of fantastic readings from local DC lit mag, Barrelhouse). Hang out with “lit mags you’d like to sleep with”: 6×6, 1913, The Lumberyard, Trickhouse, and Versal.
As for “the organizations,” the most famous was the Congress of Cultural Freedom, which covertly sponsored a highbrow intellectual journal, Encounter; paid the expenses of American and European intellectuals to attend international conferences; and supported the foreign distribution of American literary and cultural journals such as Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, Hudson Review, and Sewanee Review.
Zoetrope: All-Story has a gorgeous—in a new wave way—new issue designed by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, “a short issue themed largely around violence and crime.”
Electric Literature #5 is here. (NSFW?)
Nice new design at The Review Review, great site about lit mags for readers, writers, writer-readers.
And Jaime Karnes strongly recommends the latest issue of BOMB:
BOMB magazine has been publishing conversations between artists, writers, actors, directors, and musicians since 1981. It is where art and culture collide to provide the most intimate, raw, and scarily real portraits of this and the last century’s most influential people. Issue 114 / Winter 2010 most exemplifies this magazine’s mission. From beginning to end, it is quite impossible to set this issue aside.
Every Tuesday, Travis Kurowski presents Luna Digest, a selection of news from the world of literary magazines. Travis is the editor of Luna Park, a magazine founded on the idea that journals are as deserving of critical attention as other artistic works.