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This review is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Cover of The Little Magazine in Contemporary America eds. Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz
Valerie DuffThe Life of Littles The Little Magazine in Contemporary America, eds. IAN MORRIS and JOANNE DIAZ (University of Chicago Press) $27.50

The nearly one thousand small presses and literary journals at annual AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conferences in America, and the publication posts made every day by an active literary community on Facebook, beg the question of where the conglomeration of lit mags today has come from and where it is headed.

In their preface to The Little Magazine in Contemporary America, editors Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz explain that their current project, an anecdotal anthology of various journals, is meant to be part of a lineage that addresses that question – a continuation of two must-reads for anyone interested in American literary magazine history: The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History and The Little Magazine: A History and Bibliography. The selections that form this latest history examine literary magazines of the present day—answer questions of why they began, who was present at their inceptions, how they have been received, thrived, and/or died. They also consistently remark upon the change the electronic landscape of the twenty-first century has brought to magazines.

Morris and Diaz’s The Little Magazine mixes the old with the new. An introductory essay, ‘A Decade or So of Little Magazines: One Reader’s Perspective’, written by CLMP (The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses) director Jeffrey Lependorf, looks at McSweeney’s (est. 2001) and its buzz, as it reached his ears, in a sea of rising and falling journals. Although Lependorf says McSweeney’s demonstrates a literary magazine’s uniqueness, he claims he could have easily shifted focus to ...


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