About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette
Black features Torii, Takaishima, Honshu, Japan (2002),
a photograph by Michael Kenna. Kenna, who grew up in England and
now lives on the West Coast, is “a diurnal and nocturnal photographer,
fascinated by times of day when light is at its most pliant.”
More than twenty books and catalogs have been published on Kenna’s
work, including Michael Kenna: A Twenty-Year Retrospective
(Treville, 1994), Impossible to Forget (Nazraeli Press,
2001), and Japan (Nazraeli Press, 2004). Represented
by dozens of galleries across the globe, his photographs are included
in the permanent museum collections of the National Gallery in Washington,
D.C., the Patrimoine Photographique in Paris, and London’s
Victoria and Albert Museum, among others. In 2001, Kenna was made
a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of
Culture in France. His work can be viewed online at
Another door closes. . . . As I write these comments,
the New York Times carries the announcement that the Atlantic
Monthly will no longer be publishing fiction in its print magazine.
Should we be surprised? Probably not. Most of the commercial outlets
for literary short fiction have disappeared entirely in recent years.
The New Yorker still carries a story most every week, but
that’s down from the two or even three in the olden days.
Still, the news is shocking. And sad. The Atlantic, after
all, has published premier fiction for nearly 150 years. The editors
claim the change will allow them to offer more space for “long-form
narrative reporting.” I suppose that ungainly descriptor covers
the niche they’re trying to carve out for themselves in these
increasingly competitive times. But is that all there is to it?
Did their polling of readers suggest a dying of interest in short
Our polls (we sent out a reader survey with the last issue) suggest
surely not. People, millions of them I suspect, still care passionately
about stories (and poems). They plumb, as nothing else can do, what
Peter Taylor calls in one of his great stories the “complications
of feeling” that haunt and fascinate and move us.
But I guess that’s simply not enough when all that matters
is squeezing into that particular niche or wangling as many readers
as possible. Commercial publishing seems no longer interested in
meeting a need or producing something of lasting power and beauty.
Bottom lines, and that’s what we’re really talking about,
embrace a different measure of value altogether.
I’m glad to say that the true—perhaps exceptional—influence
of a literary magazine does occasionally catch someone’s eye.
A recent issue of New York Press sports a column headed
“The Broken Curse: A Literary Theory.” Spike Vrusho
belatedly came across one of our back issues. You may remember the
handsome cover photo of a bus (in Cuba by chance), its riders framed
in a window. One is wearing a certain baseball jersey. “The
Red Sox won the World Series last year,” claims Vrusho, “because
their home jersey was inadvertently featured on the cover of the
Spring 2004 issue of The Kenyon Review.”
Not even I suspected such chthonic powers. It turns out that the
pen, or at least the literary magazine, may indeed be mightier than
the bat as well as the sword. Spike Vrusho ends by offering a moral:
“The best advice is to not pick up literary journals at the
onset of a baseball season. It only leads to trouble.”
Hhmmm. I’m a lifelong Tiger fan. That would explain it.
—David H. Lynn