Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moving Towards "Untoward"

My plan is to begin an online literary magazine before the end of the year. I believe I've mentioned this plan before, so you might as well call this a progress report. It has a name, the site does. It will be, simply, Untoward. I like the word "untoward" and I think it denotes the general vision I have for the site.

What exactly is the general vision, then?

Well, might as well unveil that, too. It's providing literary fiction of a more humor-driven bent. I blanch a bit at saying "humor-driven" because there's a perceptible, if not prevailing, attitude that humor is ancillary to great fiction, not central. Well, despite that I think some of the best novels out there have humor at their heart, saying "humor-driven bent" is not to say other principle elements of fiction don't count or will be viewed as needing no presence in submissions whatsoever, that with this effort I intend solely to bring another version of "McSweeney's Internet Tendency" or some such to the table. No, my hope is that this site will satisfy an unsatisfied niche group of readers and those writers whose fiction isn't obviously placeable within the delineation of any of the numerous literary websites out there in . . . cyberspace.

How may humor form and inform the other elements of fiction? Think Vonnegut, Kafka, Nabokov, Joseph Heller, William Gaddis, David Foster Wallace and more. Contemporaries like George Saunders, Pynchon, DeLillo, Lorrie Moore, Etgar Keret, Adam Levin and Patrick Somerville. These writers are funny in transcendent and complex ways, and their humor often is an attempt at more than just getting a rise out of their readership, amusing for purely amusement's sake. Humor can be densely complex while it's also profoundly hilarious. Unpack it a little, see why this is. So despite that I've read and thoroughly enjoyed many of cyberspace's websites' fiction, I don't think any one of those adequately satisfies the niche I describe, and neither do the big printeds -- no, not even McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.

In any event, Untoward will satisfy my own selfish, personal need, which is to provide a place for my fiction and the fiction I tend to gravitate to. But my feeling is that there are others who'll fit right in, in the community I seek to establish with this effort. Obviously I've read others whose fiction is my kind of fiction, and I'm sure those writers have inspired many others. I want one and all to submit, known writers and unknowns alike. I welcome it wholeheartedly.


  1. I like the name Untoward, for what it's worth. Not sure it captures your salute to humor, though. BUT. I'm terribly dreadfully embarrasingly slow. By the by, I scared up a respondent at Between the Lines. Her feature will run a week from this Monday. She's a YA novelist, to boot.

  2. HA! Kevin! Slow? You? Hmmm. Doubtful. And I suppose my site's moniker is intentionally cryptic. I like the regality it betokens, as a reference to something dismissed and haughtily discountenanced by polite literary society. Somehow, Jonathan Franzen has come to embody this notion for me, not that I necessarily dislike his work or anything. Maybe it's that he's once again the literary flavor of the moment. He's got all kinds of targets on his back presently.

    Look forward to more from Between the Lines! I'll be watching for its update in my blog roll.

  3. If you don't mind, make her feel welcome with a question or a comment. She did a fine job and want to reward her w/ an atta-gal, or two. Cheers, K

  4. Thanks for the comment at BtL! I'll be sure she's aware of it. Cheers, K