Thursday, July 22, 2004

Where's the Glimmer?

So, where's the Glimmer in Glimmer Train?

For the uninitiated, Glimmer Train is one of the magazines that serves as a market most beginning writers covet. It pays, and pays WELL. Plain and simple. And it has a good enough rep, but given the fact that it pays a decent stipend to appear in its pages, everybody wants in, even if there's something a bit hippy-dippy about its covers and the pix of the authors as children before each story. (It should also be noted, many writers think its semi-annual short story contests are a bit of a scam, but to be fair, how hard is it to make money as a lit mag? One of the only sources of true income is likely the clamoring hoard of writers trying to break in, grown spendthrift with hubris.)

At any rate, I've just finished reading the Spring 2004 issue, and I didn't enjoy a single story until page 83. Ouch. Yes, Daniel Villasenor may be hot (judging by his I-wear-long-pants-now grown-up picture at the end, not the child's pic, you sick freaks!) but I still didn't like his story much.

So yeah, most of the first chunk of the magazine reminded me of that "pompous" reputation literature sometimes has. Lots of the stories had some nugget that spoke of some interesting human conflict, but were buried so deep in purple prose as to be obscure and ultimately, uninteresting.

There were, of course, bright spots, I am happy to report. There was Vast Inland Sea, by Jonathan Kooker, Fighting with Fire, by Frances Lefkowitz, Georgi's Move, by George Fahey, Plan B, by Anita Shah Kapadia, Far from the Sea, by Avital Gad-Cykman, and Going Home, by Ionna Carlsen. And the one that entertained me the most -- in fact, was a joy to read, for its wry wit, was The Divorce Rate for Surgical Residents, by Michael Bahler.

So, 7 out of 14 of these stories pleased me -- okay, not half bad, I guess. I also understand that taste is, of course, subjective. However, in regard to the other half of the stories, the ones that didn't meet my discriminating taste, had I been editing, I would have begged for more white space and pleaded on behalf of a tried-and-true friend, the quotation mark. (What's with the new trend not to include quotation marks with dialogue? Sheesh.)

So, the spring issue of Glimmer Train certainly wasn't a complete waste of time, but there were points where I feared it was turning out that way. As for any stories that completely violated any canons or took any delightful undue chances, there were none -- if edgy's your middle name, I might not seek it as a home for your words.

Thanks for reading, and write on,



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