Since launching in September, Fiction Writers Review’s “Book of the Week” promotion has shipped seventy-nine books to readers located in twenty-four states and three countries. Whether we’re giving away debut novels or acclaimed collections, the enthusiasm on Facebook has less to do with free, signed first editions than what these books do and how their authors accomplish it.
It’s exactly this enthusiasm that now allows us to expand the spotlight from books deserving your attention to literary journals deserving your attention. Starting this week, Fiction Writers Review will begin profiling publications we admire right here on the blog in a feature entitled “Journal of the Week.” In addition to inside access via micro-interviews with each journal’s editorial staff, readers will be eligible for free subscriptions, given away to Twitter followers at random.
We are honored to highlight One Story as our inaugural Journal of the Week. Since its founding in 2002 by Hannah Tinti and Maribeth Batcha, stories in the journal have been recognized by The Pushcart Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Science Fiction Stories, Best American Fantasy, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories… and the list goes on. And beyond these awards, One Story has been recognized by readers and writers worldwide for its dedication to championing the art of short fiction.
This dedication rose from the horrific events of 9/11. Recognizing life and time to be precious, Tinti and Batcha forged forward with One Story’s core concept: stand-alone stories. More than an issue of formatting—each story is delivered single-serve—or layout—you’ll find no book reviews or essays bookending works—this concept serves to promote the art form that is the short story. Readers recognize this immediately upon picking up One Story. Issues aren’t “compact” so much as they are “curated.”
Visitors to the One Story booth at AWP may have noticed collections of stories bound together by theme. At this year’s conference, I purchased the “Crime” collection, boasting stories from Alan DeNiro, Melissa Yancy, Dika Lam, Leigh Newman, and Tomas Dobozy. Though collected under one “Crime” heading, DeNiro and Dobozy’s stories could not be more different; whereas DeNiro’s “Child Assassin” drips in dark experimentation, allowing readers to get lost in what exactly entails concepts like “murder” and victims that might or might not be “babies,” Dobozy’s “The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kálmán Once Lived” utilizes historical research to paint a brutally accurate landscape of the violence and fear that defined WWII-era communism.
The breadth in just these two stories, collected in a set of five, speaks volumes to the 146 stories that have gone to print at the time of this post. Ranging from the magic realism of Kelly Link’s “The Great Divorce” to Tom Grattan’s gripping “Foreign Girls” to works in translation like the recent “Surprise Party” by Etgar Keret, One Story’s stable of high-profile authors delivers something new and different to readers’ mailboxes every three weeks.
Over email, I spoke with Associate Editor Marie-Helene Bertino to better understand what drives One Story and how this drive may change as we move toward an increasingly digital future.
What is the role of One Story in today’s literary community, be it for readers or writers?
Our role in the literary community is twofold: 1. To present sound stories that honor a variety of voices. 2. To secure the future of short stories by supporting emerging writers in real ways, like throwing them debutante balls where we literally present them to the lit community. At the literary “party,” One Story‘s role is of the older sister with questionable but effortless fashion sense, who doesn’t take herself too seriously, who observes the party from the doorway with a glass of whiskey in her hand before calling you over to whisper to you what the real deal is. She drives a muscle car. And was the president of Science Club in high school. And has serious opinions about music.
How do you see One Story‘s mission and tastes evolving in the next two years? Will the rise of digital publishing impact the composition of One Story?
I hope our tastes continue to evolve; as new writers take short stories in new directions, we’d like to go with them. Additionally, on the subject of taste and, I might add, style, I’ve always thought the surest way to look outdated fast is to be a slave to trends. So as an editor I am much more interested in finding the voice that is doing its own thing. As for our mission, it will continue to be to publish one great story at a time, but we will have new fun tech tools to help us! I am thrilled that One Story is offered on Kindle and the iPad. We recently live-tweeted a staff reading, which was lots of fun. We will figure out how each tech advancement can be used for our particular aesthetic and use them as tools, mercilessly!
If you could put three items in a time capsule (or USB drive) to be opened in 1,000 years to provide a snapshot of One Story‘s aesthetic today, what would they be?
Great question. One of Hannah’s wishing stones from Positano, Italy, which represents our whimsical, magical realistic side and our yearly workshop that takes place in that town. A Mason jar of disgusting water from the Gowanus Canal which represents our realistic and gritty side and dedication to Brooklyn. And a picture we took a few years ago at our holiday party at Sharlene’s of the One Story staff wrapped in twinkle lights, which represents the people and writers who are the reason we do what we do. This would also embarrass my staff, which pleases me.
What album is playing on the One Story stereo these days?
Fantastic question! A CD compilation of South by Southwest’s Artists to Watch, Led Zeppelin III, and Luscious Jackson’s Natural Ingredients. We also have a separate record player that continuously plays Biggie Smalls (our managing editor Tanya Rey = Biggie Super Fan).
Given their love for all things Biggie, our New York readers should be aware that One Story is bringing its considerable music prowess to the Brooklyn party scene on Friday, April 29th, for its Second Annual Literary Debutante Ball.
This year’s Debutante Ball not only celebrates the five One Story authors who published their first books this year, but recognizes Dani Shapiro for her mentorship of emerging writers. With a “debutante procession,” art auction, and signature cocktails, it’s not to be missed, so you’ll want to snag tickets soon.
Later this summer, One Story will re-offer slots in its Summer Workshop for Emerging Writers. Details are forthcoming on their website.
Subscription information, back issues, and much more can be found at the One Story website. For even more goodness, follow their Twitter feeds (both One Story and Hannah Tinti’s personal feed) or “like” them on Facebook.
As a special bonus to readers of Fiction Writers Review, we’ll be giving away three free subscriptions to One Story! If you’d like to be eligible for this week’s drawing (and all future ones), please visit our Twitter Page and “follow” us.
For those of you already in the FWR Twitter family, you know our presence there exists in part to inform followers of what’s happening here on the site, as well as to update the community on literary trends, worthwhile links, etc. We couldn’t be happier to see this role expand in a way that allows us to put journals we love in the hands of readers who will love them too.