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.
Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB)
An ambitious, well-edited, well-staffed, non-profit enterprise founded by Tom Lutz online in 2011 and in print in 2013, LARB “combines the great tradition of the book review with the evolving technologies of the web.” They rival such print reviews as The Guardian, New York Review of Books, and The Boston Review in their dedication to “expert opinions written by the best writers and thinkers of our time.” But unlike their print peers, which appear as tabloids, LARB publishes new content everyday online for free, and appears as a perfectly bound quarterly to paying subscribers. Departments include: Essays, Reviews, Interviews, Arts & Culture, Current Events, Events, Reckless Reader, The China Blog, Provocations, The Korea Blog, Horoscopes, Asking For a Friend, and Construction Sites of Los Angeles.
Impressive, recent essays include “Malia’s Tears,” by Arielle Zibrak, which references Editor-in-Chief Lutz’s The Natural and Cultural History of Tears in reflecting on the iconic moment of Malia’s crying at her father’s farewell speech: “Moral weeping comes from the deepest recesses of the heart. This was undoubtedly moral weeping.” Another to share is “Leo Tolstoy and the Origins of Spiritual Memoir,” by Thomas Larson. Lutz himself, as a writer, editor, and Chairperson of Creating Writing at University of California, Riverside, clearly inspires and invites engaged, lively intellect without academic self-importance. In all, LARB is an essential bookmark for fresh thinking, for sending essays and reviews, and for the critical attention writers aspire to for their work.
Sequestrum: Literature and Art
This carefully edited, visually arresting quarterly (the third issue each year is a double) appears in web and e-pub formats and began in 2014 as “a collaborative effort by graduates of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.” It is based in Iowa City and the staff consists of R.M. Cooper, founder and managing editor; Katherine Ivory, fiction and nonfiction editor; and Hoot Uhl, poetry editor. The title refers to archeological bone fragments that imply larger creatures: “We publish concise, evocative writing that couldn’t exist in any other form, yet reminds us of the breadth and scope of longer works.” Circulation ranges from 1,000-2,500. Most all of the writers are news to this reader, and memorable news.
The current issue, #10, features prose by Nathan Long, “Burying Your Dog”: “The next day, after the vet has pushed the translucent pink fluid into her body, checked for a pulse, and left, pick her up in your arms. If she has died naturally, feel for the pulse yourself. She will feel like different animal, her muscles no longer resisting. Place her on a plastic sheet, to catch the liquids she will release, and wrap her.” Other fiction is “Mariposa,” by Joseph O’Malley, a raw account of the gang rape of a gay man, who then gets revenge through the agency of a “gay mafia” (another story by O’Malley, reprinted from Crazyhorse, appeared in a previous issue). “Metastasis” by Scott Lambridis is about a man’s transformation, triggered by a woman he sees on the subway. His face becomes reptilian. He attends a support group for the hideous. Finally his face becomes a butt, until he meets the girl again and starts to heal. Poems by Cory Hutchinson-Reuss and Kelly Nelson are standouts. Each work is followed by a brief interview with the author. A banner tab opens an archive of notes on all contributors to date, linked to their works.
Non-subscribers are teased by opening paragraphs, then must subscribe to read more. Subscriptions are by month ($2.50) or quarter ($10/20/40, depending on generosity), and subscribers may submit work for free. There is a free monthly newsletter; also an innovative contest: The Editor’s Reprint Award, for previously published works.
“We’ve got essays, reviews, interviews, music, film, fiction, and poetry—along with some kick-ass comics,” boast the editors (now Marisa Siegel, editor-in-chief; and Lyz Lenz, managing editor). A well-established web enterprise, The Rumpus was founded in San Francisco by novelist Stephen Elliott in 2009, and was purchased in January 2017 by Siegel, previously its managing editor. In some ways, the site rejects “popular culture,” as represented by The Huffington Post, for instance, “’art’ created by marketing executives,” and being “the first to break the news.” It aims instead to promulgate “culture” itself: “good writing…sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt.” They have fostered and developed audiences for Roxane Gay, Rick Moody, Wendy MacNaughton, Paul Madonna, Peter Orner, Yumi Sakugawa, Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed (who began “Dear Sugar” on the site), among others.
Features change on a daily basis: “Books” every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; “Film/TV/Media,” every Thursday; “Interviews” with writers, poets, musicians, and media icons every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Original short fiction appears one to two times a month. “Essays,” “Comics,” “Music,” and “Poetry” are refreshed less regularly. Unfortunately, there appears to be no on-site archive.
Subscriptions to The Daily Rumpus, an off-shoot of the site, are free. For $27 each, readers can subscribe to The Rumpus Book Club or Poetry Book Club. “Each month, members get a copy of the predetermined pick of the month—a mix of hard copies and galleys. All picks [are] previously unpublished books, and members [are] invited to an online discussion with the authors. Anyone is free to write a review, and the best one will be published on the Rumpus.” They also have two subscription-based letters programs, Letters in the Mail (“two letters in the mail from authors,” signed and with a return address, “so you can write back”) and Letters for Kids (letters from authors to kids).
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