Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Narrative Party

Look! The literary magazine I broke up with last month (Narrative Magazine/StoryQuarterly) is having a party with Amy Tan and Tobias Wolff. I could go and have dessert and wine, but I've thrown all of Narrative/SQ's clothes out of our shared closet and burned them in a huge bonfire on the front lawn, while shouting out all sorts of horrible names.

So it would be kind of awkward.


Anonymous said...

I don't have an MFA. Am I invited to the party?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Good, I thought so. Not only will I not submit, but I won't subscribe, either. I'm done with these kind of journals in 2008. I'm ok with rejection, really I am, but I'm not ok with the exclusionary world of academia. Booooring!

alex said...

I could be wrong, but I don't think Amy Tan or Tobias Wolff have MFAs. And neither are from wealthy backgrounds, either. There's plenty of room at the top for the self-made writer, Anonymous, so go get 'em!

Anonymous said...

Tobias Wolff holds a Fist Class Honours degree from Hertford College, Oxford (1972) and an MA from Stanford University; he was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford. Among other creative writing stints (Syracuse University from 1980 to 1997), he was director of Stanford's Creative Writing Program.
Amy Tan received a MA degree in English and Linguistics from San Jose State University.
Remember, in the 70's MFAs weren't that common; an MA in English was the equivalentm of a MFA.
Also, Tan came at the right time -- the literary world was very receptive to an Asian woman's life story. Woman, Asian.
There's almost always a reason why a writer of literary fiction "makes it," Alex. Just explore a bit.
So, no, Anonymous One, you aren't invited to the party. And, no, don't read their exclusionary rag.

Anonymous said...

It's time for a good list of all literary publications that are outside academe.

Adding to what Anon4 said above, if these contributors aren't MFA/MA grads or current MFA students, they're teachers. Like Ann Beattie and others like her who teach the MFA programs.

Of course if any of us were offered such a position, with health care, we would find it awfully hard to turn down.

It's to our benefit that we haven't had such an offer, because since we see through the thin veil and we despise the brutal rule of the academic-culture complex, we can work to destroy it.

Alex said...

Someone's just a wee bit bitter!

Have you considered that maybe your failure has more to do with your tiny, sour little soul than with the vast academic conspiracy to control the world?

Pauline said...

Perhaps some magazines are partial to the MFA world (I doubt it), but why would Narrative be one of those magazines? It's not affiliated with a university.

Magazines read submissions from all kinds of people; perhaps most of those submissions are coming from people who have MFA degrees, or are currently studying for one. I think many slush pile readers don't take a second glance at a person's academic pedigree, and besides, there are so many MFA programs out there, it doesn't really set you apart. (In fact, maybe NOT having an MFA gives you a leg up!)

And what's so wrong with getting an MFA anyway? I don't see the harm in getting a couple years to write, while also gaining teaching experience. It definitely doesn't make getting published in journals any easier.

Anonymous said...

Tobias Wolff didn't get a "Fist" Class Honors degree at Oxford (as I wrote, above). That's given in their College of Karate. He got a "First" in English.
Also, in the exclusive prep school he went to, he began to make those contacts so necessary to success in the literary world. I wholeheartedly recommend the path he took.
As for Alex's use of the word "bitter," don't let it worry you, Anon One. He'll call you a "no-talent whiner" next. They get abusive like that, you know. It's a knee jerk reaction to criticism of the staus quo.
Anybody with half a brain knows that the stuff published in the top literary magazines arrives on the editor's desk. It's not plucked from a slush pile!
In the 2005 Best American Short Stories, 17 of the 20 stories are by people with degrees in creative writing (and many teach, because they sure can't make a living off their writing). The two best stories were by Alice Munro and Rishi Reddi, neither of whom attended writing programs; they lived lives off campuses. Much of the MFA stuff is dreck.