Jun 27th 2015

“Miss Rich is married and lives in Cambridge, Mass.”

by Mary L. Tabor

Mary L. Tabor worked most of her life so that one day she would be able to write full-time. She quit her corporate job when she was 50, put on a backpack and hiking boots to trudge across campus with folks more than half her age. She’s the author of the novel Who by Fire, the memoir (Re)Making Love: a sex after sixty story and the collection of connected short stories The Woman Who Never Cooked. She’s a born and bred liberal who writes lyric essays on the arts for one of the most conservative papers in the country and she hosts a show interviewing authors on Rare Bird Radio. In the picture Mary L.Tabor

You care about literature. You might even want to get published. Maybe you’ve got the short story done. You’re working on the novel. You don’t have an agent, a big publishing house.

Reader or writer, you may say, “Literary Magazines: Why bother?”

I say the “little” guys take more risks than the slicks or higher circulation journals, also disappearing as the Internet seems to rule.

If past is prologue, we can learn:


William Faulkner

It took Faulkner thirteen years to see his first short story in print. And he sent to the literary journals. “That Evening Sun Go Down” (Best American, 1931was published in The American Mercury (now gone). In those early pages we are introduced to some of the Compsons who make up The Sound and the Fury. “A Rose for Emily” appeared in Forum (now gone) in 1930. Both magazines rejected earlier stories. And the rest is history.




William Saroyan

William Saroyan’s tour de force of voice, “Resurrection of a Life” appeared in Story (now gone) in 1935 and then in Best American. I argue that this story could not have found a home in a commercial magazine. In 1940 his play The Time of Your Life won the Pulitzer.

Both Faulkner and Saroyan mailed to the little magazine where risk is the name of the game.




Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud’s “The Girl of My Dreams” appeared in 1953 in American Mercury (gone) and “The Mourners” in 1955 in Discovery (goneboth after his novel The Natural (1952) and before his short stories had been collected in a volume. “The Girl of My Dreams” ran alongside one poem by poet Kenneth Koch at the beginning of his career and another by Adrienne Rich when her bio still said, “Miss Rich is married and lives in Cambridge, Mass.”


William Gass

William Gass’s “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country,” a long story (another “problem” for commercial magazines and Ezines—that is, length) appeared in 1967 in New American Review (now gone). This story that breaks form, was chosen by Best American and has been widely anthologized. In New American it appeared alongside Philip Roth’s “The Jewish Blues” and Grace Paley’s “Faith in a Tree.”

Ian McEwan

A story by Ian McEwan appeared in the final issue (1977) of New American by then calledAmerican Review. That magazine published three of his stories before he published his first novel and later went on to win the Man Booker Prize. His story appeared alongside stories by Grace Paley, E. L. Doctorow and Angela Carter.






Pam Houston

In 1998 Pam Houston published a story in Fish Stories (gone) before “The Best Girlfriend You Never Had” appeared in Other Voices (gone) in 2000 and was chosen for Best American and then by John Updike for Best American Short Stories of the Century.

Jhumpa Lahiri

In 1998 Jhumpa Lahiri published a story in Salamander (circulation about a thousand) before her book Interpreter of Maladies was out, before she won the Pulitzer for that collection in 2000. The title story appeared in Agni (circulation about 2000) in 1998 and later in Best American. Agni is now Ezine and print.



They bothered. Why shouldn’t you?

Long ago but still relevant is this: In 1994 the NEA commissioned a study of the literary world that concluded: “Most writers of literature, including those who go on to prominence, will [first] find their way into print through small presses.”

I received my MFA degree from Ohio State University when I was fifty-three—the oldest student in the program—and have published ten stories in little magazines. Frederick Busch named my collection of short stories the finalist for the 2002 Associated Writers Program Book Award, which Joan Connor won. When I was an MFA student, I selected one of her stories for The Journal (circulation about 1,500) where I was working as a student and assistant fiction editor. She bothered. So should you.

The list goes on with many contemporary authors who use the small press route before and after they are well known:

T.C. Boyle

T. C. Boyle, “Poison,” Hawai’i Review. I was able to find a link to what might have been this magazine at Poets.org (Note: this is not the site for Poetry Magazine that received a $200 million grant in 2003 from Ruth Lilly). Boyle's collection of short stories The Descent of Man appeared in 1979.




Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley, “Jeffrey, believe me,” 1977TriQuarterly before she had a book.










Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie, “Winter: 1978” Carolina Quarterly (1980)and reprinted in Best American 1981.




John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman, “Two Stories,” The North American Review. He published his first book A Glance Away in 1967 when he was 26. He decided in 2010 to self-publish with Lulu. The blog aalbc.com gives you a fine overview of his career and links to all his books, including those he recently self-published. Publisher's Weekly that has continued to review the self-published work did a story on his decision to go rogue, as the big houses might assert.




Mary Gaitskill

Mary Gaitskill, “A Crazy Person, Open City after her collection Bad Behavior and a novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin had appeared.




Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker, “Harold Munger’s Story,” Story Quarterly (1981); his bio, quoting him, says, “he is not working on a novel.” His first novel The Mezzanine appeared in 1988.

For the established print and Ezine mags, go to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. All have websites.

At Arts Online see the many established mags among the not so well-established that are now Ezines. Some of the uber-prints like Grand Street are gone but many let you read from their archives if they’ve not gone totally online … yet!

Drunken Boat is an online journal of art and literature edited by the poet Ravi Shankar. In issue DB12, T.C. Boyle and Alice McDermott write tributes to Eugene O’Neill. Perhaps as impressive is that Robin Hemley, former Director of the Nonfiction (uber-famous) Writing Program at University of Iowa has a lyric essay “Twirl / Run” with photos by Jeff Mermelstein—a gorgeous layout that sings on the web as an interactive piece. Robin Hemley was the first editor of the Ezine Defunct Magazine.

Colm Toíbín

I so admire the author Colm Toíbín, all his novels and essays. In his collection of short stories The Empty Family the first story “Silence” took my breath away: It was published in Boulevard Magenta—a blogger and poet Michael O'Dea gives us the scoop on this "small" pub.






Ezine or print, the little magazine matters.

You can’t afford not to read both if you truly want to discover literature.

If you’re a reader who cares about literature and loves to discover, if you’re a struggling writer—and all of us who shoot for the moon, meaning we shoot to write all-caps-literary fiction or memoir, are struggling—you can’t afford not to try both.

An excerpt from my memoir (Re)Making Love appeared in the Ezine Drunken Boat in spring 2011. Shortly after, I was featured in the big circ. mag. Real Simple, February 2011. My novel Who by Fire, ten years in the making, is reviewed here on FactsandArts.com.

I bothered (see my list here) with the little mag. So should you.


TO FOLLOW WHAT'S NEW ON FACTS & ARTS, PLEASE CLICK HERE!




  

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jul 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "--- Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. --- Author James Baldwin’s words, written in the America of the late 1950s."
Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in more deprived neighbourhoods tend to have worse physical health as adults compared to those raised in more affluent areas. This is the case even when researchers take into account family income and education, and whether or not parents have major illnesses. In order to address this health disparity, researchers need to understand how those living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods end up with worse health outcomes. Our team’s latest study has highlighted one potential way your childhood neighbourhood may influence your health for years to come. It might do so through changing how the activity of your genes is regulated."
Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Ruth Poniarski is a painter and the author of Journey of the Self: Memoir of an Artist (Warren Publishing, 2020), in which she tells the story of her decade long struggle with mental illness, a “spiraling malady” which led her into a “pattern of psychosis”. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Poniarski about her life and work, and how she eventually overcame her demons."
Jun 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "I know I’m good in a couple of things, really good in a few things, and that’s enough. My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me, it’s no problem. I need experts around me. It’s really very important that you are empathetic, that you try to understand the people around you, and that you give real support to the people around you."
Jun 27th 2020
An essay about the "the enormously influential 1940 'Head of Christ' painting by evangelical Warner E. Sallman" pictured below.
Jun 17th 2020
EXTRACT: "The diverse, non-human life forms that live in our guts – known as our microbiome – are crucial to our health. A disrupted balance of these contribute to a range of disorders and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease. It could even affect our mental health..... It’s well known that the microbes living in our guts are altered through diet. For example, including dietary fibre and dairy products in our diets encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. But mounting evidence suggests that exercise can also modify the types of bacteria that reside within our guts."
Jun 13th 2020
EXTRACT: "Bonhoeffer’s life holds an important lesson for us today, regardless of our religious affiliation or lack thereof. And simply put it is this: you are called upon; you are called on behalf of your neighbor. When you are called to be responsible that is not an obligation which you can decline, discharge or acquit yourself of – it is an infinite responsibility, a “forever commitment” as Charles Blow recently put it. And we all must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary when we are called."
Jun 11th 2020
EXTRACT: "People differ substantially in how much they’re affected by experiences in their lives. Some people seem to be more affected by daily stress, or the loss of someone close to them. On the other hand, some people seem to get through the same experiences relatively unscathed. Similarly, some people benefit strongly from counselling, or having a support system of close family and friends. Others seem better able to manage on their own. But understanding why some people are more sensitive than others isn’t just a question of how they were raised, and the experiences they’ve been through. In fact, previous research has found that some people in general seem more sensitive to what they experience – and some are generally less sensitive."
Jun 7th 2020
EXTRACT: " The root causes of anthropogenic climate change – which has led to the endangering of countless species across the globe – cannot be adequately grasped in isolation from the technological application of modern science. While Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was certainly justified in calling upon American legislators to “unite behind the science,” neither can we overlook the culpability of science in bringing about the environmental crisis. "
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The QAnon movement began in 2017 after someone known only as Q posted a series of conspiracy theories about Trump on the internet forum 4chan. QAnon followers believe global elites are seeking to bring down Trump, whom they see as the world’s only hope to defeat the “deep state.” OKM is part of a network of independent congregations (or ekklesia) called Home Congregations Worldwide (HCW). The organization’s spiritual adviser is Mark Taylor, a self-proclaimed “Trump Prophet” and QAnon influencer with a large social media following on Twitter and YouTube."
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The aim of my research for the Understanding Unbelief programme was to investigate the worldviews of non-believers, since little is known about the diversity of these non-religious beliefs, and what psychological functions they serve. I wanted to explore the idea that while non-believers may not hold religious beliefs, they still hold distinct ontological, epistemological and ethical beliefs about reality, and the idea that these secular beliefs and worldviews provide the non-religious with equivalent sources of meaning, or similar coping mechanisms, as the supernatural beliefs of religious individuals."
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Psalm 91, for example, reassures believers that God will protect them from “the pestilence that walketh in darkness… A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee”.............Luther was a devout believer but insisted that religious faith had to be joined with practical, physical defences against sickness. It was a good Christian’s duty to work to keep themselves and others safe, rather than relying solely on the protection of God. "
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Evidence from this study shows clearly that eating foods rich in flavonoids over your lifetime is significantly linked to reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk. However, their consumption will be even more beneficial alongside other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, managing a healthy weight and exercising."
May 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "It’s possible that the answers to questions like, “how do I live a virtuous life?” or “how do we build a good society?” are not the same as they were a few weeks ago."
May 2nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Strangely, those with strong beliefs tend to be admired. The human mind hates uncertainty, so it is comforting to be told what to think, and to form settled opinions. But it is not rational. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Apr 21st 2020
Extract: "Humans, Boccaccio seems to be saying, can think of themselves as upstanding and moral – but unawares, they may show indifference to others. We see this in the 10 storytellers themselves: They make a pact to live virtuously in their well-appointed retreats. Yet while they pamper themselves, they indulge in some stories that illustrate brutality, betrayal and exploitation. Boccaccio wanted to challenge his readers, and make them think about their responsibilities to others. “The Decameron” raises the questions: How do the rich relate to the poor during times of widespread suffering? What is the value of a life? In our own pandemic, with millions unemployed due to a virus that has killed thousands, these issues are strikingly relevant.
Apr 20th 2020
Extract: "If we do not seize this crisis as a moment for transformation, then we will have lost the war. If doing so requires reviving notions of collective guilt and responsibility – including the admittedly uncomfortable view that every one of us is infinitely responsible, then so be it; as long we do not morally cop out by blaming some group as the true bearers of sin, guilt, and God’s heavy judgment. A pandemic clarifies the nature of action: that with our every act we answer to each other. In that light, we have a duty to seize this public crisis as an opportunity to reframe our mutual responsibility to one another and the world."
Apr 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Death is the common experience which can make all members of the human race feel their common bonds and their common humanity."
Apr 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "A crisis such as this one demands that we exercise what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called the ‘public use of reason’ – as opposed to merely the ‘private use of reason’ where, briefly put, the expert, the specialist is tasked with resolving a defined problem. The private use of reason is sufficient when we are dealing with a problem that can be solved by simply applying the appropriate expertise...............The public use of reason asks: how we are defining the problem? Is our definition – our conceptualization of the problem – perhaps part of the problem itself? Is this pandemic solely a problem of public health, or is it also a problem of extreme economic inequality? ..............Since this crisis began, the greatest failure of the administration is not the denial, the lies, the lack of preparedness, but the inability to rally and unify the nation against this common threat, the lack of genuine leadership – Trump’s utter inability to bring the nation together."
Apr 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Rarely has an architectural experiment aroused such extremes of ire and admiration. One side is convinced the house is a masterpiece. The other expresses brutal condemnation of the entire project (leaky roof, danger of flooding, too-hot, too-cold interiors depending on the American Midwest weather).........Farnsworth encapsulated her personal ambiguity in her comment to a Newsweek interviewer: “This handsome pavilion I own is almost totally unworkable.” She told one journalist, “ … all I got was this glib, false sophistication. The conception of a house as a glass cage suspended in air is ridiculous.”