Periodical Round-up: August 2015 Issue

When the store is slow, I sometimes space out behind the counter staring over at the sumptuous display of food, music, art, and news, in the case of periodicals facing the register.

Periodicals measure time–they’re necessarily topical, keeping us readers current, and their long-form pages slow our pace. Sometimes, though, periodicals get away from us, stacking up as our busy weeks disappear behind us.

The other day I was tearing the covers off of last month’s issue of The Sun--the new issue had arrived, and it was time to send this one back. I’d meant to buy this issue–a fascinating headline about mass incarceration, a stunning black and white photograph of a mother and child on the front. And here was Poetry, and The Atlantic, and National Geographic, and I was tearing the covers off of all of them, piling up their insides, all those hard-won arguments, felicitous phrases, gorgeous images, off to the blue dumpster in the alleyway down the street. Well, goodbye. I suppose this is the  nature of life.

I’ve been thinking about approaching my periodical reading habits more deliberately. Maybe this is a result of reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I want to choose carefully the paper that enters my home, even if it is headed to the recycling bin. (Not to startle with realness here, but, we’re all headed to that recycling bin anyway.) Let’s seize, study, enjoy these ephemeral pleasures with conviction and attention as we go.

photo (8)Every month, I’ll pore over a handful of our periodicals’ current issues, maybe point you towards a publication you haven’t read but are destined to love, and tell you about the stories and articles inside that we’re really excited about in the store. We want you to know what’s current–so you can set aside a piece of your valuable time to read and enjoy some of these stories, before, ugh, it’s too late. (Así es la vida.)

photo 4This month the spotlight’s on Uppercase, Harper’sGather, Lucky Peach, and McSweeney’s

Uppercase is “for the creative and curious,” and issue #26 is all about “Perfection.” The issue profiles artists who work with miniature books, who combine poetry and the US Postal system, and the breathtaking work of papercut artist Myriam Dion. The Perfection issue, like everything Uppercase puts out, is vivid, bright, and generous, with a sumptuously smooth and heavy paper experience.

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I had to buy July’s Harper‘s because a translation of “One Day Less,” by my very favorite departed Brazilian fictionist, Clarice Lispector, appears in the July 2015 issue. The story’s fantastic, and you need to read it, especially if you are as excited about The Collected Stories of Clarice Lispector megatome from New Directions  as we are at Literati. And after that, be certain to read Mario Vargas Llosa on “the erotic” (wink), and Caleb Crain’s defense of pretty much all we believe in. (And August’s Harper’s issue, which just landed on our shelves, is equally great–featuring a wonderful collection of essays on parenting in our age).

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If you haven’t been reading Gather, and you care for startlingly-larger-than-the-sum-of-its-parts food writing and wild photography, you should be. Gather‘s a quarterly, and the Summer 2015 issue is called “Spectrum,” and, yes, color-themed. (Just look at that sprinkly toast and all the prisms on the cover. Dude.) The issue feels positively elemental.  There’s a Slinky, a papaya, and a Hindu love myth wrapped up in a story about yogurt. A history of the 17th century Flemish color pigment Cassel Earth as a preface to a seared duck and warm lentil salad. Color theory. Chakras, baby! And perhaps you become shy around Chakra-talk, but chill, man, the colors are working, here! And the work is smart, exceptional, and thrillingly creative, far beyond what we expect from a food magazine.

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I picked up Lucky Peach‘s Summer 2015 issue, “The Plant Kingdom,” because of the grinning dangle of carrots, disconcerted snail, and cherubic tomatoes on the cover, and because the cover promised a tutorial on “How to Give the Best Fruit Massages.” But, please, read this because of the wildly compelling story on weird citrus and the lovable weirdos who grow them, and a beautiful watercolored comic about birds in love. There’s also a saffron adventure, brimming with hijinks, set in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, of all places, and a great essay about the Queen of Greens, California superstar Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone chef Deborah Madison.

McSweeney’s is an OG innovator of the fiction journal form (remember No. 13, all comics, the book itself wrapped in newsprint? Or No. 16, the Iceland issue, which was folded like a flower and contained a plastic comb, mirror, and notebook?) and Issue No. 48 is again, exceptional. McSweeney’s seeks to surprise its readers, enlarging our perception of verdant literary worlds. Don’t know any Croatian writers? Well, here are seven stories by Croatian writers who perhaps you’ve never heard of, but perhaps you may love. No. 48 also has new work from emerging and established writers like Etgar Keret and Kelly Link,  as well as a screenplay from Boots Riley. Michigan MFA alum and friend of Literati Dan Keane has a superb story called “The Lazarus Correction” about a murder near some Bolivian salt flats, and Valeria Luiselli has a great one about a embarrassing road trip music. Sigh, Valeria Luiselli, we adore thee. (Whose novel Faces in the Crowd I declared my favorite of the first part of 2015, and whose forthcoming Story of My Teeth I may declare my favorite of the second part of 2015.)

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