Literary Journal Monday…

March 4, 2014 at 6:06 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

…became “figure out how to make my car run by book club tonight” Monday.  Sort of.

This involved coercing my husband into taking the battery out – because I hate dealing with the stupid under-the-hood-cover they throw on new cars these days.  I am one of those truly-85-in-every-aspect-not-just-books-and-my-FLIP-phone people.  In that I was more than happy to work on my car myself… alternators, spark plugs, shocks, struts, the whole shebang… as long as it was from 1987 or older.  This business I’ve driving now… well, it might be all nice and cushy and have air conditioning and defrosters that work; and maybe when it rains my feet don’t get wet because there’s an actual floor board, not just a carpet… but I HATE IT.  I hate it because as soon as I pop the hood it looks like a Russian space station from a disaster movie set in the future to me, not a car.

So, yes, despite women’s lib and all that – I coerced my husband into unhooking the dead battery for me.  I still took it to AutoZone, carried it in myself,  and had it replaced (for FREE! It was under warranty, thank goodness).  But I still came home, handed my husband the keys to his truck and told him the new battery was where he’d left the old one.  Pretty sure he wasn’t too keen on hooking the new one up, but neither was I.  I married a mechanic for a reason! I CAN work on my car, but I’d rather read a book.

Or, in this case a literary journal off my personal shelf.

McSweeney’s Autumn 1998

My copy is a 3rd printing from 2006, “Created in darkness by troubled Americans. Printed in Iceland.”

I always like their little subtitles and witticisms.  Reminds me of Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail and the majestic moose biting their sister.

quarterly01I’ve read McSweeney’s before, issues one through three in their entirety to be exact; the rest of the issues I’ve just peeked through.  I collect them and have a whole shelf of them all my own to be perused at my leisure and today I picked up issue one again.  How can I not when it’s filled with goodies like this:

“Come close […] because I’m going to tell you a secret.  Ready? Here it is: Each and every one of us, and I mean everyone, has a tiny little troll who lives in our heads and controls our thoughts.” – pg. 12

The letter section just kills me.  It’s too wonderful.

Neal Pollock’s bits are always fun, too.  Like this one from issue one:

“My  life is not private any longer, but neither is it really public.  Rather, it’s a kind of quasi-private-psuedo-public life that could only exist in the netherworld of the Internet.  I have given myself up to the web, and like a beast in a cage that eats meat all the time, the web insatiably demands more.” – The Burden of Internet Celebrity, pg. 22 of “Gegenshein”

quarterly02And the Paris letter in issue two (“Pollyanna’s Bootless Errand”) that I just can’t bring myself to try to sum up; you simply must go read it yourself.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day spent, despite the hiccups.  I got to re-read an old essay involving Man-Bats on the Moon by Paul Collins (featured in issue two as well), whom I love, and that is never time badly spent.  And yes, I said Man-Bats.  On. The. Moon.  If I haven’t imparted some sort of desire in you to go discover the glory that is Paul Collins’ knack for discovery weird history, then I have seriously failed as a book blogger over the last few years.

The kiddo and I also ate through nearly an entire crock pot of corn chowder, half a block of Swiss cheese, and a container of cayenne pepper.  (Also there was a vat of coffee and a jug of V8 Fusion involved, so you KNOW it was a day well spent.)

Oh, and then, I went to book club.  Because we got my car running just fine and in plenty of time.  I spent a little under two hours discussing Herodotus with book clubbers.  And now, moments after midnight (moments in Tuesday!), my brain kind of hurts a little.


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Literary Journal Mondays

February 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Remember the zine movement? (No? Visit Snapdragon Zine Fair) Ah, the 90’s and early 2000’s.  Except that’s not where it started.  No, it began long ago, and still goes on, in Literary Journals.

McSweeneys9McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern comes to mind.

But do you remember Granta? (or Paris Review, or Soho Square, or The Quarterly, or countless others?)

My eyes tend to rest on Granta when I’m in a bookstore.  Such colorful spines… printed by Penguin.

Today, #24 Inside Intelligence pops out at me… “Her Majesty’s Government does not want you to know about the life of Anthony Cavendish,” the cover reads.  There’s a huge circular stamp in the bottom right corner: BANNED IN BRITAIN.  How do you pass that up?

What follows is a spirited and creative journalistic effort to share news in the form of intelligent literature.  Photographs and interviews you wouldn’t get in a newspaper, writing worthy of Pulitzers (and sometimes even written by Pulitzer winners).  Just in Granta #24 alone, Philip Roth, Peter Carey, Tobias Wolff, Bruce Chatwin, and E.L. Doctorow all grace us with their presence.

The world of literary journals is a fascinating and amazing one that goes back centuries.

Notes and QueriesPaul Collins wrote an essay called “121 Years of Solitude” for Bookmark Now about his own journeys through a literary journal called Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men – a weekly magazine from the Victorian era.  Collins’ memoir-like essay of his time spent in the Portland, Oregon library is one I dive into regularly, envious of his access and ability to take time to develop a daily library routine.  Bus rides downtown, coffee, grand staircases, Notes and Queries, the entire endeavor sounds heavenly to me.

I don’t have time in my life – or the ability, as a mom of a three year old – to replicate a similar endeavor right now.   But, the idea of taking an extra 30 minutes to an hour each Monday to peruse a literary journal that graces the shelves of my existing Monday routine (Good Books in the Woods) sounds plausible.

So here’s to Literary Journal Mondays – may they be more consistent than my Weekly Low Down of Kids Books (which happens sporadically throughout most months instead).

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