Thursday, July 20, 2006

The American Scholar: Now Publishing Fiction

The good news is that The American Scholar has begun to publish fiction! I saw this announcement on the cover of the Summer 2006 issue during a recent bookstore visit and quickly grabbed the journal off the magazine shelf. The two inaugural stories are by Alice Munro (who will have a new collection, The View from Castle Rock, published this fall) and David Leavitt. This is great news.

What's not so great, at least from my perspective, is this part of the issue's Editor's Note:

One practical reason for not running fiction [in the past] did eventually come to mind. How would our small staff handle the onslaught of creative-writing-program-generated manuscripts sure to follow the publication of our first short story? We struggle to keep up with the unsolicited nonfiction manuscripts. A doubling or tripling of submissions might result in editorial defenestration--either these manuscripts learn to fly or we do.

The SCHOLAR has always encouraged young talent [....] Still, we have reluctantly decided to discourage the submission of unsolicited fiction. Send those stories someplace else, please. We promise to find you when your talent has blossomed.

But another bright spot--I also found in that issue a wonderful essay by an old writing friend (we met at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival almost ten years ago). So if you do pick up this issue don't just read the fiction--be sure to spend some time with Natalie Wexler's "The Case for Love," too.


grackyfrogg said...

heh... did they really have to throw in that snide dig about MFA students? give me a break. a simple "we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts" would have sufficed.

but maybe i'm just being sensitive and bristline because i'm starting an MFA program in the fall. i would have thought people who want to feature good writing in their magazine would want people who have poured themselves into the effort of studying the craft, but perhaps not.

that quote makes me wonder: from whence do such prejudices against "creative-writing-program-generated manuscripts" spring? do lots of other editors/publications feel the same way? as a working writer with an MFA degree yourself, what do you think of the Scholar's comment? i'm curious.

thanks for this site, and all the info you post here.

grackyfrogg said...

i meant "bristling," not "bristline." sorry!

so much for pouring myself into writing efforts...

Erika Dreifus said...

Well, I wasn't thrilled with the comment either--but maybe I'm a little sensitive to it, too (I thought it was a tad on the snide side, myself).

Thanks for your recent comments here and elsewhere on the blog, grackyfrogg!

Anonymous said...

Apparently, they prefer to publish the New Yorker's castoffs rather than take a chance on something new and different....