You’ve heard me talk about Other Voices Querétaro. Our website is now live! Workshops with Pam Houston, Josip Novakovich and Rob Roberge. My longtime partner in the Other Voices operations, Stacy Bierlein and I will run Wine and Publishing Talks nightly. It’s the most affordable international writing program going–I don’t think I’m wrong about that. Casa Cubana, where all the workshops will take place, is freaking stunning, too. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Wow…I’m crazy excited. Let’s do this thing, people!
So many fascinating things to read this week. It’s one of those times I don’t know where to start. How about here–Jami Attenberg, on Being Fat.
I briefly served as the faculty editor for TriQuarterly Online when the magazine was first transitioning from print. Christ, that was a hot mess. Susan Hahn and Ian Morris had been fired. Everyone from Poets & Writers to the New Yorker was enraged that such a seminal magazine was being altered in such a radical way–not just taken out of print, but turned over, effectively, to MFA students who would run the magazine through classes, which Susan Harris, from the astoundingly good Words Without Borders, and I had been hired to teach prior to actually being told that the “new magazine” we’d be training the students to edit was freaking TriQuarterly. I thought about leaving when I found out, but I wanted to help the TQ legacy survive–there were cool things like an online archiving project…there was history I cared about…it felt more relevant to try to do something positive than to stand outside and hurl stones. The thing was, TQ was a financial drain, and Northwestern didn’t feel able to fund it anymore. Subscriptions were apparently way down and the thing had been bleeding money for a long time. But no one would at the university include that bald fact in their talking points. The librarian and the dean and whatnot kept babbling in public about how online was the wave of the future, and trying to spin the firing of two of the best known editors in the country and the shuttering of a revered print journal as “progress” and cause for celebration, and nobody was buying it. The librarian was getting death threats. I finally did quit my job–after seeing the fabulous first issue of the magazine through to publication–when I was literally given examples of words I wasn’t allowed to use when speaking to the media. I proceded to use them all anyway. Then I left. Or actually, the truth is, I’m giving a bit of a respin too. My leaving wasn’t all ideological. I loved working with Reginald Gibbons and Sandi Wisenberg, who were in charge of the transition from the inside, and who both cared deeply about the magazine and literary history, and knew their shit, and have fought the good fight for writing their entire professional lives. I never even met any of the Northwestern Powers That Be who were always allegedly pissed at me. I left in large part because the project had become a 40 hour a week job, when I’d thought I was just teaching one class. I hadn’t signed on for that, and I sure wasn’t being paid for that. They’d fired editors who were being well-compensated, and hired me to do what turned out to be the same amount of work, amidst a firestorm of controversy, and were paying me an adjunct prof’s nominal fee. It was absurd. But really, my point here isn’t that Northwestern was evil. They weren’t. They just weren’t honest. They had actual good reasons for doing what they did. There’s no Absolute that says a university is obligated, in brutal financial times, to continue to throw significant funding at a publication that has lost money at every turn, just on principle. Had they admitted that up front, I think the subsequent hysteria might never have ensued. Maybe I’m wrong about that. People are often looking for a fight. My point is, really: the new TriQuarterly is still a positive force. The new incarnation of the magazine is good. A literary magazine and MFA students who are eager to edit it really, in the scheme of things, are rarely going to be the Devil in any story. Most of what happened was hyperbole, even though other things, like editors losing (already incredibly rare) paid positions, sucked. I’m happy to see TQO still putting out controversial, relevant work. I’m happy to see people talking about the writing they publish, instead of about what form they’re publishing it in. Time heals things. Funny how that happens.
Time magazine has named Emily Rapp’s Little Seal one of the top 25 blogs of 2012. Emily is one of the most compelling and passionate writers in the country. Meanwhile, Vanessa Vaselka’s GQ feature on the Truck Stop Killer is leaving the readership of their “sexiest woman of 2012″ in the dust. Sometimes, really cool things happen. Congratulations, Emily and Vanessa.
Enter the FC2 Innovative Fiction contest. You only have until November 1.