20 Under 40 and the Fantastic

With one post, Larry Nolen simultaneously offers a thoughtful and well-informed response to folks who got all "wwaaaahhrrr!  waaaahhhhrrr!  genre good!  waaahhhhrrrr!" about the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" promotional list (whereas I just offered snark) and he proves what we already knew -- that he was the perfect successor as Best American Fantasy series editor, because his perspective is exactly the one we wanted for the book when we created the series (and he's a much faster reader than I am, which will make the work perhaps a bit less arduous for him than it was for me).  It's a post well worth reading -- one of the things being inundated with piles of lit mags does is show you the extraordinary variety of writing out there, both in terms of content and form.

Now if I can just get him to stop calling it "mimetic fiction", I'll have achieved all of my goals for world domination, bwahahahahahahahaaaa!

Update: The link for "20 Under 40" above goes to interviews with the 20.  Here are some questions and responses:

Chris Adrian:
Who are your favorite writers over forty?
Ursula K. Le Guin and Marilynne Robinson, John Crowley and Padgett Powell.

What was the inspiration for the piece included in the “20 Under 40” series?
Kate Bernheimer asked me to contribute a piece to her new anthology of fairy tales, “My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me,” and I was excited to have a chance to revisit a story that disturbs me: Goethe’s “The Erlking.”

What are you working on now?
A story about a haunted house.

What was the inspiration for the piece included in the “20 Under 40” series?
[...]I wanted to try a sort of fantastical-historical story—Hitchcock meets the swamp.

What are you working on now?
New stories and a novel about a whacked-out imaginary town during the Dust Bowl drought.

Who are your favorite writers over forty?
Just a very few on a long list would be George Saunders, Kelly Link, Joy Williams, Ben Marcus, Jim Shepard, and whole cemeteries of the well-over-forty deceased ones.


  1. Wait, why aren't you the series editor anymore? You did such a good job!

  2. Well, to quote one of my least favorite people of the moment, Tony Hayward, I wanted my life back! I'm a slow reader, and because of that BAF took over most of my reading life. I got so I didn't want to see another short story for the rest of my life. I've begun to recover, but it was a really tough job, and I just didn't think I could honestly do it. When we struck on the idea of asking Larry if he'd take over, it just seemed perfect. And he's in a good position to help us expand the "American" part, because he reads Spanish and Portugese. I'm still hanging out as an occasional advisor, because I love the series and all the folks involved with it, but I needed to be able to have someone else doing the preliminary reading or I was going to have a total meltdown.

  3. Thanks for the high praise, Matt! I will note, however, that the past 2-3 months have made me a bit numb after reading all those journals, but there have been some outstanding stories that have more than made up for the occasional drudgery.

    I'm hoping next year will be much smoother, with twelve months to devote to reading rather than three full months. It might also give us time to net more Latin American writers, since I would be able to have the time to read those e-zines and inquire about translations of suitable stories that I just didn't have this time around.

    But I am optimistic that BAF 4 will continue the good things started with the first three. Plus, it has been a godsend to have you, Ann, and Jeff helping me along the way!

  4. Thanks so much for all these links--


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