Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I stacked up all the issues of The New Yorker from my subscription. The stack is by the bed. I'm a little surprised to find myself enjoying working my way through them. With books I feel bound to push through from page one to page last. There are books I've been reading for years ... Walden, for example, recently rejoined my active reading pile but I probably only get through 3 of its pages each week. I'm about halfway. Magazines, however, are much more a miscellany. Frankly, there's many an article the subject of which just does not interest me. Sports teams, most humor ... I like funny but I don't seem to have much taste for humor.

I don't currently have any magazine subscriptions going but a new issue of something will make it into the house now & then. When I've read it, do I discard it? With The New Yorkers I've decided yes. Finish the issue, stuff it in the recycle bag.

I used to buy a literary magazine or two a month. But they piled up. I would read a few poems then put the issue aside and forget what if anything I'd read in it. But I do have a soft spot for the locals.

A couple days ago I bought the first issue of a new litmag out of Oakland, Beeswax. The cover is letter press -- means you can feel the impression of the print in the paper. A honey bee. Simple and friendly. At five dollars it's pretty cheap. There's no masthead. Only an invitation to address correspondence to "the editors" ... no email. Though there is a website address and there the editors name themselves. John Peck and Laureen Shifley. I wonder why they neglect the credit in the physical magazine? They include their own work in the first issue. None of the poets/fictionists/visual artists on the contents page are names I recognize.

I'm up to page 15. So far the work is competent. Short stories in litmags are usually not of much interest. I've given myself permission to skip over them. Nicole Ankowski's "It's Called Dancing" is a relationship dance. Rather slow moving but there are nice turns of phrase. "I wondered if a tattoo needle felt like teeth on skin, a mechanical ferret nipping over my chest." I might make it to the story's end.

The poetry so far is unobjectionable. I like that the editors like comics; it was one of the reasons I bought.

When the clerk was ringing up the purchase he made a comment about it being the first issue. "Number one?" he said. "An auspicious number."

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