....seems to going out to the Faster Times today, for its new ranking of lit mags.
I'm not all that contemptuous of a person, so I'm asking myself why.
If Wigleaf had made his list, would I feel different? Probably not -- though I might find myself less willing, at the moment, to say what I think...
So why then? Possibilities:
1. I've never loved Cliff Garstang's lit mag rankings, but Cliff has always been completely frank about what they represent: nothing but Pushcart success. In the Faster Times list, I see Lincoln Michel going for what Cliff is going for--an objective-type sense of which lit mags are held in high esteem. But he's not as forthcoming about how the calculations are made.
2. In the 'Why?' section – like, why offer such a list –- he suggests that he's trying to help writers who may be overwhelmed by the number of mags out there and so not know which are the most prestigious. Am I being too bone-headedly literal if I point out that another clear function of any such ranking is to rank? The Faster Times may or may not be super interested in helping fiction writers – who knows – but there's a clear enough basis for interest in stratifications, assertions of relative prestige. Who's up? Who's down? Who's in? Who's out? Tell us, People Magazine. I mean, Faster Times.
3. Back to number 1: the lack of forthcomingness about how mags are assigned 'tiers': Michel is quick to make clear that the rankings don't reflect his own favorites, among which he lists Noon, Unsaid and New York Tyrant. These happen to be among my own favorites, too. Have to say, though: a couple of mags in that general 'family' appear in the lower tiers (fuck you, I’m not listing them)—while some higher-profile/more fully established mags (Barrelhouse, for example) are omitted. Yes, I'm wondering about pandering.
4. Back to number 2: People Magazine. Why do we even do this shit? If you think, as I do, that the fiction in the New York Tyrant is, in general, better and more important than the fiction in the New Yorker, let me suggest that you have an obligation: to lend it your fire, to declare, wholeheartedly, your belief in it. You can be a tool, try to serve the man, or you can be part of how perceptions change.