Open City Folds: The End of A Literary Era
If you haven’t already heard, some sad news in the world of indie lit: Noted literary magazine Open City is shuttering its doors. Although Open City Books will continue, Open City Magazine will cease publication.
Over the course of twenty years and thirty issues, Open City published the work of influential writers such as Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, Diane Williams, Dean Young, Robert Stone, Jonathan Ames—the list goes on. In 1993, Open City was the first American venue to publish the work of Irvine Welsh. In that same issue, their third, Open City also published an excerpt of the novel Richard Yates was working on at the time of his death.
Open City will always be remembered as the first to publish and champion the writing of many young, and at the time, relatively unknown writers, including Sam Lipsyte, Leni Zumas, Rachel Sherman, and David Berman (although Berman was known, he was known for his talents with The Silver Jews, not his poetry).
Here are just a few of the highlights:
“Cremains” by Sam Lipsyte (from issue #9):
Once she told me the story of the time a minor movie star was leaving a party and motioned her to join him in the elevator. She hesitated. The door shut.
“I was waiting for your father,” she said. “He was in the can.”
“That guy just wanted to fuck you,” I said.
“How do you think anything beautiful begins?”
“Dragons May Be the Way Forward” by Leni Zumas (from issue #22):
My mother is blattering about grace and bravery. They have launched a new rocket and its astronauts are so graceful and brave. Her favorite channel shows their faces, miles above Earth in airless air. That one’s a schoolteacher, she says. Far left—see? She’s got guts, that teacher. Maybe she’ll write a book about her adventures.
I was stretched on a towel in the backyard, fourteen and no friends, when I first read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. When the page said, “And spiders spread ghosts of suns between branches,” a nerve I’d never felt before throbbed between my legs.
“Uncertain Times” by Richard Yates (from issue #3), transcribed from Amazon “Look Inside!”:
William Grove believed he could afford to be almost at peace with the world when the new year of 1963 broke over New York. At an early, tipsy hour of that morning he was walking home down Seventh Avenue with his arm around Nora Harrigan, and they were singing old songs.
“Classic Water” by David Berman (from issue #4):
I remember Kitty saying we shared a deep longing for
the consolation prize, laughing as we rinsed the stagecoach.
I remember the night we camped out
and I heard her whisper
“think of me as a place” from her sleeping bag
with the centaur print.
I remember being in her father’s basement workshop
when we picked up an unknown man sobbing over the shortwave radio
and the night we got so high we convinced ourselves
that the road was a hologram projected by the headlight beams.
I remember how she would always get everyone to vote
on what we should do next and the time she said
“all water is classic water” and shyly turned her face away.
At volleyball games her parents sat in the bleachers
like ambassadors from Indiana in all their midwestern schmaltz.
She was destroyed when they were busted for operating
a private judicial system within U.S. borders.
Sometimes I’m awakened in the middle of the night
by the clatter of a room service cart and I think back on Kitty.
Those summer evenings by the government lake,
talking about the paradox of multiple Santas
or how it felt to have your heart broken.
I still get a hollow feeling on Labor Day when the summer ends
and I remember how I would always refer to her boyfriends
as what’s-his-face, which was wrong of me and I’d like
to apologize to those guys right now, wherever they are:
No one deserves to be called what’s-his-face.
Christian Lorentzen over at The New York Observer gives the full story.
Michelle Legro of Lapham’s Quarterly compiles all thirty covers:
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook
- 10 Shaq Confident He Will Eventually Make Funny Quip on TNT