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Cock-Fighting & The Ecology of Aquariums

GM: I only wrote one piece for the VQR and my sense of Genoways tracks that of the writer who did the piece you linked. I have experience of monsters and can usually sense it when one is in the room. None of that with Genoways. His sending the magazine in a new direction seemed to be part of the problem. It made me think about the dearth of real long-form journalism in the media today. I want to read eight- or ten-thousand word pieces about interesting subjects, and the mainstream media no longer carries them. Leaving it to people like Ted Genoways, and, I hope, us. For Genoways, interesting meant deeper looks at hot spots, crises: Afghanistan, the ‘war on drugs’ (that calls for quotes), Iraq. Me, I tend to prefer subjects that aren’t in the spotlight. I’d rather read my ten thousand words about Balinese cock-fighting, or the ecology of aquariums. Which leads me to some of the reasons why I’m excited about the two prose pieces in this issue. I have nothing against MFAs in fiction, unlike this guy, but a lot of the work that attracts me comes from people who didn’t go that route. I read a draft of Cynthia Mitchell’s story thirteen years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. We’re lucky to have it. Cynthia hasn’t written a lot of fiction – she leans toward the visual arts – but everything I’ve ever read of hers is fantastic. Steve Geng is another outsider to the world of letters. As his sister was writing for the New Yorker in the 70s and 80s, Steve was a career criminal and junkie. Yet he managed to publish a memoir that lit me up when I read it. Having chops is one thing, a craft, but knowing what to do with them, that makes the artist. — RA

One Response

  1. G McClure

    Your hope’s well-founded, RA. The first issue’s in the oven and we’re getting closer to golden brown and delicious. As for our proses, they’re Moses.

    Of further interest:

    * NYTimes shined a quick light on the Genoways story on the 10th: http://nyti.ms/dz2JJP

    * Steve Geng’s jump: http://www.stevegeng.com/

    Any jumps for Cynthia?nn1

    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am