What I’m Reading: Ploughshares, Fall 2013

I’ve started submitting to literary markets (he says, as though he is admitting some sort of secret, deeply-held). One story of mine in particular has consistently received the feedback that it’s not speculative, so off it goes to magazines whose names end in “Review” and who publish handsome paperback volumes on thick, buttery paper.

I’m submitting to paying markets only, of course, and the pro-paying markets first, which might be all the paying markets — I don’t have hard data, but anecdotally there seems to be a double-handful of markets which pay better than any SF market save maybe Tor.com, and a wide field of markets (including such notables as the Harvard freaking Review) which don’t pay anything at all.  It’s about the publication credits on your CV which will help you get a faculty job, I suppose. Assuming you want a faculty job.

Since I was submitting to these literary magazines, and I’m lucky enough to have a local bookstore which stocks a selection of them, I picked up the latest issue each from half-a-dozen of the magazines on offer and have been slowly reading through them.  Despite the field’s overall reputation for slow response times, my reading speed was outpaced in several cases by the speed with which their rejections returned to me, but I’m in this for the long game, and sometimes I find gems which more than validate the exercise even if not for the excuse of market research.

The Fall 2013 issue of Ploughshares, produced by Emerson College here in Boston, is one such example.  Really the one story in it, “K Becomes K,” by V.V. Ganeshananthan, about a young woman’s experience as part of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, is worth the price of admission all by itself, raw and powerful. Robert Anthony Siegel’s essay about Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari is a nice finishing touch, and his discussion of the techniques Kawabata uses to depict his distant narrators has some relevance for my own writing.

Very much recommended.

(I’m pleased to discover that it’s on Kindle and Nook, in case you are not lucky enough to be a subscriber or to live near a bookstore which happens to stock it — which I would assume to be true of most of us, in 2013.)