Tag Archives: indie lit

A Batch of S[h]elfies Part 3: Bonus Edition!

There were a couple shelves I should’ve included before, so . . . here they are!

Moar Shelfies 1

Top shelf: Lots of issues of Tin House!

Moar Shelfies 2

And lots of issues of The Paris Review and Glimmer Train (with appearances by Hobart and n+1).

Moar Shelfies 3

Joyce, David Sedaris, Arthur C. Clarke, Elie Wiesel, Anthony Burgess, and a number of classics.

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A Batch of S[h]elfies: Part 2: Upstairs…& More Basement

Continuing with my post from earlier, here are some more of my favorite shelves from my home library. This time, we’re heading upstairs (mostly)!

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Some short stories, some sci-fi, some Melville, a little bit of the Ozarks, a few vampires — this shelf has a little bit of everything!

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Shelf 1 is mostly philosophy and religion. Shelf 2 features science, travel narratives, and books by great writers such as Roxane Gay, Alex Pruteanu, Alexander Chee, and many others!

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I Hate When I Realize I’ve Been A Lit Snob

I felt a sense of relief when I opened up to the T.O.C. of the latest issue of The New Yorker and saw—under Fiction—Roberto Bolaño’s name. The previous two issues featured Saïd Sayrafiezadeh and John Lanchester (and before them, upon taking a second look at my back issues: Etgar Keret, Margaret Atwood, Nathan Englander, César Aira and Alice Munro).

I’d never heard of Sayrafiezadeh or Lanchester. (I’m probably late to the party here; it’d be par for the course, etc.) As a consequence, I had a strong, capricious kneejerk feeling that The New Yorker was tending toward the, well, underwhelming. How about another story from George Saunders? (Even though he just had one published recently.) How about Sam Lipsyte? (See George Saunders comment.)

And then it hit me and I became sad.

Not because the writers I seem to like reading most weren’t in the two most recent issues—for that, I simply began to feel childish and, honestly, a little dumb. I felt sad because I realized I’d just been guilty of being both a literary snob and a hypocrite. I felt sad also because I’d quickly dismissed two writers I’d (honestly and apologetically) never heard of. I felt like a hypocrite because I’m usually among the first critics of The New Yorker for never printing fresh new voices [like Joseph Michael Owens(?)].

Truth be told, there are very few things I wouldn’t do to be published in The New Yorker. I say “very few” only because there might be things I’m not willing to do, but I simply can’t think of any right now. And who would any of us be kidding, really? Few people outside of Amy Hempel would pass on a chance to see their name in that famous typeface.

Because here’s the (oh so very obvious) thing I realized: the stories I dismissed out of hand must be pretty darn good to even have made it into the magazine in the first place. The other thing I realized is that I can be kind of an asshole reader some times.

Perhaps I give myself too much credit for checking out as many indie lit. magazines as I do. I mean, there are plenty of fresh voices in in those, right!? But, similarly, I’m guilty of many times doing the same thing with the indie lit. mags as I am with the more prominent publications. I tend toward automatically seeking out the writers I know and, oftentimes, skip over writers I’ve never read before. And that bothers me.

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