The resurgence of the literary journal?

I’ve got quite a backlog of stuff I want to write about on here, and time never seems quite elastic enough to get it all done. For the moment, I was interested in this article in the Guardian (I know, it’s always the Guardian, but it’s the one national newspaper that does at least attempt to promote and engage with what remains of literary culture in this country).

The article itself is little more than another shameless plug for the tedious trendsetters of Shoreditch, who are seemingly determined to turn writing into another form of stand-up comedy; I imagine little of this is of interest to anyone outside London. (Key quote – “Literary fiction is no longer rollnecks and Radio 4. It’s hip and it’s young and it’s happening live in fashionable areas of London like Shoreditch”. If that doesn’t make you want to puke all your internal organs out, I don’t know what would. And what the fuck’s wrong with Radio 4!)

The author does make a good case however for the viability of online journals and literary magazines in a time when the costs of setting up a print version are prohibitive. Five Dials appears to be doing well for itself, but then it has the backing of a major publisher. There are other independent journals, such as Battered Suitcase and Pop Cult, which are carving out a niche for themselves though. My friend Martin and myself have been thinking about setting up our own literary magazine for ages, and after the months of vague talk and indecision, we have been galvanised by the idea of doing it online, for free.

It’s early days of course, and as we develop our ideas I’ll write about them here. If anyone has any advice, please leave it in the comments below.

In other news, I’ve started reading the third book on my GFBA longlist, “Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto”, by the American writer Maile Chapman. So far (I’m only a few chapters into it) it’s been the most impressive of the three. With its austere, post-war, art deco setting, the tone is very European; clinical and bleak and with a playfully unreliable narrator – or group of narrators – lurking in the background. This one has managed to get onto the shortlist, and, giving a hostage to fortune, I think it will win.


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