22 June 2004

A Conjunctive Grumble

They may have been there for ages, but I just noticed that three of the best stories from Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists are excerpted online: "Entertaining Angels Unawares" by M. John Harrison, "Lull" by Kelly Link, and "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines" by John Crowley.

Now hear me grumble. These are teasers! Magnificent stories, but only the beginnings of them. Not just little bits, but pages, and then, suddenly, a note: "The complete text of [title] can be found in the print issue of Conjunctions:39, The New Wave Fabulists." There's enough of the Harrison and Crowley to cause the average reader to be able to decide whether they want to spend the money to buy that issue, but there just isn't enough of "Lull" to get a sense of what Kelly Link is up to.

I think I'm getting too used to having whole stories available on the Web. I shouldn't be greedy. The authors and editors need to get paid for their work, particularly since it is such fine work. (I probably wouldn't mind if it weren't that I'm constantly recommending both the Harrison and Link stories to people.) Dan Green recently made the case for literary magazines to offer more content on the web, and I would certainly agree, not only because it makes it easier for me to link to things I write about here, but because it allows people to have a broader knowledge of what is being published. Of course, I can understand that journals with tight budgets must fear losing subscribers if they offer too much. (Maybe we should sic Cory Doctorow on them.)

Some things, not published in the print version of the journal, are available complete, though, such as Paul LaFarge's "Demons: A Story in 19 Volumes". (By the way, if you like surreal fantasy, be sure to look at LaFarge's The Artist of the Missing and Haussmann, or the Distinction. The first reads like Kafka and Angela Carter, the second like Borges channelling Dickens.) Plenty of good poetry and such there too.