Monday musings on Australian literature: Two favourite literary journals
I’ve been wanting for some time to write about two of my favourite Australian literary journals (that is, not specifically book review journals). I don’t read every issue – too much to read, too little time, and all that – but I’d love to. I admire people who manage to subscribe to magazines and journals and read every issue through and through.
Before I talk about the two I’ve chosen I should say that there are others I know I’d love too. I go into bookshops, pick them up, put them down, pick them up again and then realise I just can’t manage any more so I put them down again. For a useful list of some of Australia’s best literary journals, check out this Australia Council webpage listing the journals* the Council supports.
Anyhow, back to my two current favourites. Both can now be bought in e-versions, including for the Kindle. They can be followed on Twitter and have Facebook pages, and both make some of their content available free online. And, here they are …
The Griffith Review is a quarterly journal of “new writing and ideas”, and is now 8 years old. It is published by the Griffith University. Unlike most journals, it takes a thematic approach, with each issue being devoted to a theme. For example, the current issue, no. 37, is themed “Small World”, which its website says “broadens the mind with postcards and intelligence from everywhere at a time when the growth of international air travel has shrunk the definition of proximity and the internet has enabled the globalised media industry to bring distant events and places tantalisingly close”. The contributors on this issue include writers I’ve reviewed here: Murray Bail, Melissa Lucashenko and Chris Flynn.
What I love about this journal, besides the overall quality of the writing of course, is the variety of forms it encompasses on a regular basis – Fiction, Poetry, Essays (including photographic essays), Reportage and Memoir. I love that they include memoir as a regular part of the journal. And, in 2009 (at least I think it was then), they commenced an annual fiction edition. These editions contain more short stories than the other issues, and the rest of the content (essays, memoirs, etc) focuses on fiction. Not quite Granta, but perhaps moving in that direction?
Kill Your Darlings
I’m not an expert on the economics of journal publishing, but the Griffith Review does have a pretty major university behind it. Kill Your Darlings (KYD) on the other hand is a much smaller – braver – affair. First published in March 2010, it is now up to issue No. 10 (which, in print, costs $19.95, but at $7.96 from Amazon for the Kindle, it’s a great deal). This current issue has an interview with Aussie writer Andrew McGahan (whom I like but haven’t read since starting this blog) and an article on one of my favourite Aussie writers, Jessica Anderson, so I let my fingers do the walking at Amazon and in seconds I had it on my Kindle. Gotta love this new technology!
Like most literary journal, KYD’s content is diverse, with its regular sections being Commentary, Fiction, Interview, Reviews – and, sometimes, a Cartoon.
Kill Your Darlings is a smaller, somewhat plainer publication than the Griffith Review, but it is gorgeous with a stylish retro look that catches the eye. It’s lovely to hold. Hmm, why did I buy that Kindle version, again?
I’ll conclude on another article in Issue 10, which comes from Gideon Haigh whose discussion on literary reviewing in the first issue I blogged about back in 2010. In Issue 10, he writes on the economics of writing. Early in the article he says:
Here is a disjunction in Australian publishing: the most enthusiastic and imaginative publishers are the ones with no money; caution grows with size.
That seems an appropriate thought to leave you on methinks.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you – Aussie or not – whether you have any favourite literary journals, what they are and why you like them.
* I’m not sure how up to date this list is, but it’s a start if you’d like to check others out.