Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not A Magazine for the Untouchables (That's Us)

Thanks to an anonymous tip, here's some juicy insight into the strange business of the free online magazine Narrative (topic of much LROD speculation) in the form of an SF Chronicle article.

Here's how the article opens:

Tom Jenks and Carol Edgarian refuse to see the bad news about Americans' reading habits as most literary people do - as the end of civilization.

Although the San Francisco couple do not dispute the recent numbers from the National Endowment for the Arts - 2005 saw a 20-year low in spending by American households on books; among high school students, only 35 percent are proficient readers - they see a silver lining in the global reach of the Internet.

"This is a revolutionary period," says Jenks, 57, who has held fiction editor positions at Esquire, GQ and Scribner's. "And as with all revolutionary periods, it's one of enormous opportunity - I don't think there's ever been a greater period of opportunity for writers, for literary work."

"I think the transition for writers (from print to digital) is painful because it's new," adds Edgarian, 46, the author of the critically acclaimed novel "Rise of the Euphrates." "But the opportunities are enormous."

Five years ago this summer, the two set out to test their theory. Over 10 days during a vacation in Martha's Vineyard, they assembled a free online magazine called Narrative (www.narrativemagazine.com) with selections from writer friends such as Jane Smiley, Tobias Wolff and Joyce Carol Oates. The magazine's primary goal: to connect more readers to more literary writers. They even taglined the publication "The Future of Reading."

Fancy! Go here to read the entire article; it's fascinating.


Anonymous said...

My novel has been born twice.(Many times, actually, though still not published.) Does that count?

Anonymous said...

I'm getting dizzy: the Narrative conference you just linked to looks to me just like the other conference you just linked. All these rows of people that I'm supposed to idolize and/or want to hang out with, at the expense of my wallet. Don't these people know that writing does not pay?? Us literary nobodies don't have the dough to pick up the tab for these fancy conference parties / pep talks. Come to think of it, we're not able to go off vacationing for weeks on end in Martha's Vineyard, either, coming up with schemes to capitalize on this great age of literature we seem to be stuck in. Now if the potential's really so great, why don't they have conferences that show folks how to do that?

Anonymous said...

They do seem very similar, don't they? I think that the Vacationing-Martha-Vinyardites who started the magazine don't really realize that by targeting "readers," they are really mostly targeting wannabe writers. (Can you imagine anyone else thinking they should go to one of these things?) Or maybe they do realize it. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

i think people are finally getting hip to this operation. this is choice. but i can't feel sorry for the big name writers who got themselves associated with it. surely they knew the ethics.