LIT MAG READING CLUB discussion of Conjunctions
Regarding the premise – fiction versus non-fiction – I like this quote from Storyscape Journal’s mission statement: “It totally matters whether it’s true or invented, because I need to know if I should run around screaming based on the information you gave me or just imagine myself running around screaming.”
(Becky – Based on a brief search, it appears that Storyscape may be another fallen warrior in the lit mag world.)
I write non-fiction but sometimes employ tiny bits of fiction to avoid beatings and lawsuits. I suspect a lot of what passes for fiction is memoir in a witness protection program.
I’ve consumed three entries of this massive journal so far (Kidnapped, Four Notes, Poker Night). I remain surprised at what the stories are and are not about by each half-way point, leaving my first impression unresolved and the new one wondering how it’ll end (answer: abruptly). Looking forward to the live discussion this week.
'Poker Night at the Elks Club 1938' by John Crowley reads like a short story were it not for the protagonist and the author sharing the same last name (and John shows up towards the end). Is it auto-fiction, then? Not sure how I feel about magazines not naming genres...mostly confused, I guess...but I very much like your questions regarding the rationale. Worthy of discussion? Thanks, as always, Becky.
The first piece I read in this issue is the one that still stays with me -- Jack Shear's and Forrest Gander's Knot. The images are arresting, and Gander's almost free associating around each one is evocative, haunting -- a match for the images. The piece reminded me of experimental theater work I was a part of long ago in which psychophysical images gave rise to language that was shaped into a performance piece, highly scored in the end.
-I am delighted, Becky, with your choice to interview Clare Shearer, Managing Editor of CONJUNCTIONS published by Bard College. ONWARD is a formidable collection of poetry and prose. I called Clare of whom I was unaware and left a message -- no Lit Mag discount offered. Two weeks later she hears my message and emails me inquiring after my successful reception of the current issue, my response and a jaw -dropping offer to ship me gratis any one of my selection. I put in three years on an off at Bard College and harbor no more cherished memories. ONWARD is a tribute to the quality and growth of the Bard experience. Kids were coming back from across the river bawling that Woodstock didn't have any bathrooms so we blew it off. Becky Tuch interviewing Clare Shearer Monday! Lucky us!
Ah Becky, suspense was building as to how you would handle Conjunctions after giving weight to almost every piece in earlier Lit Mags. I really appreciated your ideas and context on Russell Banks work. Kidnapped and Bakersfield were two favorites. I appreciate your careful reflection on selected work in Conjunctions.
Marmalade, the last story by D’Aguiar--is hilarious and touching.
The reading club is a terrific and vital way to learn more about lit mags.
Wow: a character with my name in a Russell Banks story. (What next? My mother’s recipes side-barred in a travelogue?) But ultimately kind of a dubious achievement. Don’t wanna read about maganistas.
Perhaps being picky. Is it "onward" or "onword"? Cover says the latter, his quote the former. Perhaps being playful?