1) Tin House – I do my lists in reverse order. If there was only one journal I’d follow, it be Tin House. Its mix of eclectic writing and contemporary writers pushes it ahead of a competitive field.
2) McSweeney’s – I’m counting both the online and quarterly, both sides of which have, surprisingly, a different feel to them. Online features short, conceptual pop-culture-oriented humor pieces where the more serious, yet eclectic stories are published in good old fashioned black and white on paper.
3) Glimmer Train – The best writing contests, hands down, call Glimmer Train home. Alternating between topical and general short stories, there is almost always a place to submit your story for the chance to win some money, regardless of subject matter.
4) n+1 – Fantastic essays are the reason I pick up n+1. Just recently, they featured an article concerning the future of writing in the context of “MFA vs. NYC,” which made the cost of a subscription worth it on its own.
5) The Lifted Brow – The most stylistically original journal I’ve seen, published out of Australia. TLB was the first to have a previously unpublished piece from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King which was later picked up by Harper’s.
6) Alaska Quarterly Review – Guest editors like Amy Hempel and award winning storyists such as Lily Tuck and Patricia Lear make AQR a must read.
7) PANK – It’s edgy, it’s hip and it’s one of the (e-)journals your future agent is reading right now. Shouldn’t you be too?
8) Zoetrope: All Story – This one, like number 9, is pretty self-explanatory. Fantastic stories and nothing else. Gotta love me some Zoetrope.
9) Granta – I was this close to not including GRANTA for the same reasons I did not include The Paris Review and The New Yorker. But because it’s published across the pond, it often gets overlooked. Some people I’ve talked to have actually (gasp!) never even heard of Granta. It’d behoove greatly you to check them out if this is you.
10) Electric Literature – Who says you need a print copy to be stellar? Much like PANK, this is a publication your future agent and editor are reading. Plus Rick Moody and Aimee Bender appear in the same issue (No.3).