By DeWitt Henry, Literary Bookmarks Editor
Monthly link highlights to online resources, magazines, and author sites that seem informative and inspiring for working writers. Most are free. Suggestions are welcomed.
Ducts: A Pipeline of Personal Stories
Founded in 1999 by Jonathan Kravetz, this New York City–based online journal has undergone a recent makeover, Ducts 2.0, with a colorful redesign and new staffers. They publish art, columns, essays, fiction, humor, memoir, and poetry, and seek “personal impressions, close encounters, and lived experiences of the world.” Issues are published in December and June. Greenpoint Press published The Man Who Ate His Book: The Best of Ducts.org, Vol. 2, edited by Kravetz and Charles Salzberg, in 2013. Subscriptions are free, and they pay $20 on acceptance for submissions. They also run the Trumpet Fiction series at the KGB bar. Current staff: Voichita Nachescu (essays), Julie Wilkerson (fiction), Mary Cool (humor and editor-in-chief), Lisa Kirchner (memoir) and Precious Okoyomon (poetry). There’s also a tab for the full archive of contributors, past and present. Issue 39 (Summer 2017) features an interview with Tierney Malone, guest arts editor, poetry by Rachel Rear, fiction by Susan Taylor Chehak, memoir by Jennifer Lang, and more.
Nerve: Literate Smut
In 1997 Rufus Griscom and Genevieve Field launched nerve.com “as one of the first digital-only publications.” Their concept was to celebrate “literate smut,” with an emphasis on literate. “It was provocative when provocation was still possible,” the editors write now, “when a site filled with literate smut still shocked people.” They made (and raised) money and paid both emerging and established writers well. They had notorious parties. They headed a dating site. They had a cable TV show and published twelve books. For a while they even published a glossy version of each issue. But now, since a takeover by NowAboutWe in 2014 and having aged into a different era of readers, mores, and technologies (post dot bubble, post social media, post Tinder), Nerve has returned to a simplified website, where outstanding archival material is presented along with new material.
There are six tabs on the drop down menu: Experiences; Entertainment; Dating; Fiction; Classics; and Nerve Turns 18 (its history and philosophy); there are also illustrated features that slide right and left and are categorized by content. “Politics” features an article about fictional female presidents, and “Culture” a review of instapoets. “Love” has a number of entries, including “Love in a Time of Cannibis.” The editorial variety is lively and smart. Another topic, “Visuals,” offers photographs by Carlota Guerrero. The Fiction tab delivers seven flash fictions by Chelsea G. Summers, and apparently archived stories and excerpts by Pamela Anderson, Alice Sebold, Mary Karr, Eileen Myles, and Jonathan Lethem; and the “Classics” tab adds fiction, memoir, and poetry by Rick Moody, William T. Vollmann, Suzi Parker, Mary Jo Bang, Jayne Anne Phillips, A.M. Homes, Sharon Olds, and more. Altogether a rich and heady brew, and fully justifying their promise of delivering writing “fearless and full of upbeat wit, regardless of subject.…writing that amplifies experience regardless of genre.”
For submitters, “Nerve Writers Network” (under the topic “Us”) is an intriguing variation on such platforms as Medium. Nerve commissions stories from prominent writers, but it also invites any writer to “apply for membership” (free) by submitting a post of 300-2500 words. If accepted, the writer will be contacted by an editor, and if the post draws more than 40,000 unique visitors in a month, the writer will be paid $300.
Founded in 1999 by J.W. Wang in Los Angeles, Juked’s stories and essays have been anthologized in New Sudden Fiction, Best New Poets, Best of the Web, and elsewhere. Issues appear monthly, with works added every week or so in a given month. Eighteen works are up for the current (August) issue. The layout and design is elegant, and graphics arresting. Since 2004, they’ve also published an annual print issue, the current being #14, Spring 2017. Wang remains as publisher, with Ryan Ridge as editor, heading a staff of nine. With each story or essay, the author name is linked to a contributor’s note and picture. Their archive, searchable by issue date, title, and author, dates back to 2004. Aimee Bender, Emma Straub, Matt Bell, Stephen Graham Jones, Michelle Latiolais, Blake Butler, Paul Griner, Shane Jones, and Kevin Wilson are past contributors, along with others mostly new to me. For a full issue review, see New Pages. Also see and follow their Facebook site, which has over 2,000 likes.
J S Khan Writer: Footnotes on the Edge of the Universe
As a WTP contributor, J S Khan designed his site according to our guidelines. Khan is an original, pyrotechnical writer who deserves a wider following. His stories have appeared in Fourteen Hills, elimae, Yalobusha Review, The 2nd Hand Txt, Thieves Jargon, Post Road, A Capella Zoo, and White Whale Review. It is fascinating to compare his memoir from WTP, “Hello, or Goodbye,” as a factual and emotional base to the figure of his extravagant fictions, which are anthologized and illustrated on this site. One favorite is “The Octopus Wrestler,” reviewed by David R. Matteri: “JS Khan lays on more weirdness with the story of ‘Stingray’ Radcliffe Stevens and how he became sucked into the seedy life of professional octopus wrestling. Stevens becomes entangled by the lies and deceptions of his employer, who promises him ‘heroics beyond those witnessed at Rome’s Coliseum’ but fails to mention the fact that the gladiators who performed said heroics were slaves to Rome. The situation is completely absurd (the sport of ‘elephant polo’ exists in this same world), but the feelings of lost glory and entrapment are genuine; the reader feels just as entangled as Stevens by the end.” In addition to “Writings,” the site includes news of awards and a witty bio: “J S Khan smacks of proletariat envy, but feels gracious in the presence of (some) enlightened despots. J S Khan is a byproduct of the so-called Fibonacci sequence. J S Khan trampolines on the fuel exhaust of love. J S Khan does not distinguish between reality and fantasy, having studied their common grain, warp on weft, and found both wanting.” Khan’s site surely presages a remarkable collecton to come. He also has several novels completed and is represented by Ms. Jody Kahn (“no relation, good for her!”) at Brandt & Hochman.
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