Four new hats at The Winnipeg Review

rel_port_winnipeg_review_2I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined an editorial collective at The Winnipeg Review. Shawn Syms, Benjamin Wood, Carlyn Schellenberg and I have signed on to assist Maurice Mierau with the magazine, with the goal of taking over the helm at TWR by 2017.

The Winnipeg Review “publishes online every quarter, with weekly updates, from its eponymous home. Like the inhabitants of this midcontinental city, TWR is always opinionated, occasionally cranky, and ethnically confused. We exist to review literary books, mostly Canadian fiction, and to showcase interviews, excerpts, poems, and columns by writers with something to say.”

Maurice writes,

I am the founding editor of the magazine, which was originally housed, watered, and funded by Enfield & Wizenty’s publisher Gregg Shilliday, starting in 2010. Between now and then, the magazine has reviewed hundreds of books, attracted thousands of readers, published dozens of new writers, caused the occasional controversy (often poetry-related), and given me a great deal of fun … On the less-fun side, in 2013, when the magazine became independent, I took on a lot of the work that was once absorbed by Gregg’s fine establishment on Garfield Street. As a result, I realized this year that I needed editorial help in order to keep fulfilling the magazine’s mandate.

We are excited about the future, and specifically about the great content already lined up for this fall. In Issue 21, released today, the amazing Alison Gillmor reviews the much-hyped Martin John by Anakana Schofield, Michael Prior reviews The Book of Festus by John Wall Barger, and Thomas Trofimuk reviews Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt. It’s a special combined poetry issue with CV2 magazine, so there’s also new poetry by John Wall Barger, an interview with friends of Elise Partridge, and much more.

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On Sexism in Publishing

Writer Catherine Nichols made some waves this week when she published “Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name” in Jezebel magazine.

Nichols writes that after a long period of discouraging silence from agents who’d requested to read her work, she created a new email address under a male name:

I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad.

Nichols concludes that “George” is “eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book” based on the responses.

But the responses themselves are illuminating–where George is praised for “clever,” “well-constructed” and “exciting” prose, agents ask Catherine why her characters are not “feisty” enough.

Alison Flood wrote a follow-up piece for The Guardian. She quotes Francine Prose’s essay “Scent of a Woman’s Ink” for Harper’s magazine:

“It’s not at all clear what it means to write ‘like a man’ or ‘like a woman,’ but perhaps it’s still taken for granted, often unconsciously and thus insidiously, that men write like men and women like women – or at least that they should.

Nichols’ experiment puts a new spotlight on a very old problem.

[Thanks for the link, D.J.]

Geoff Dyer on being free

I sometimes think comic writers possess a great capacity for wisdom. Geoff Dyer’s wonderful Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence is full of Geoff Dyer the funnyman but then tilts into these serious moments:

Films and books urge us to think that there will come certain moments in our lives when, if we can make some grand, once-in-a-lifetime gesture of relinquishment, or of standing up for a certain principle… then we will be liberated, free. Moments–crises–like these are crucial to the cinema or theatre where psychological turmoil has to be externalized and compressed. Dramatically speaking what happens after moments such as these is unimportant even though the drama continues afterwards, with the consequences of these sudden lurches beyond the quotidian… Unless, like Thelma and Louise, you plunge off the side of a canyon, there is no escaping the everyday. What Lawrence’s life demonstrates so powerfully is that it actually takes a daily effort to be free. To be free is not the result of a moment’s decisive action but a project to be constantly renewed. More than anything else, freedom requires tenaciousness. There are intervals of repose but there will never come a state of definitive rest where you can give up because you have turned freedom into a permanent condition. Freedom is always precarious.

Out of Sheer Rage.