Month: December 2013

My Favorite Literary Magazines

As we continue with our big countdown and donation drive this month, we’ll keep you entertained with more thoughts on city life, writing life, and how the two lives intersect. Today I’m thinking about my favorite literary magazines, the ones I always read with excitement and interest, and the ones we here at Two Cities are often inspired by.

The New Yorker

is the big granddaddy of all literary magazines, I try to never miss a story. Every week the New Yorker manages to produce and curate some of the best creative writing that can be found; this is reflected by its reserved status in each year’s i Best American Short Stories. Every story is impeccably polished and star-studded. To get your proper short story education, the New Yorker can’t be passed by.

The Paris Review

When I’m looking for the same impeccable quality as the New Yorker, but for stories that are slightly more off the beaten path, the Paris review is always there. This equally hallowed literary magazine has the same elite personality as the New Yorker, but often has stories that are a little more satisfying for some reason. Endings in Paris Review stories always leave me uplifted or devastated. It’s maybe a greater willingness to feel something that makes the Paris review special.

Ploughshares

Another highly esteemed magazine, but based in my hometown of Boston, Ploughshares is always a fresh and interesting voice. It has a different guest editor for each issue, which gives a new life and voice to each different edition. It’s great to dig back through past issues and choose one based on what author you love. I just picked up a copy from the Boston Book Festival edited by Nick Flynn.

One Story

I can’t get enough of the endlessly gripping One Story. For one, it only releases one carefully chosen story every three weeks; it’s just the right single serving to make the train ride home memorable, or to move you while you’re waiting the water to boil (I’ve got an electric stove that takes quite a while). One Story, which I interned for, is a small company run by a small but enthusiastic team of writers and editors with great taste. The stories you’ll get are more edgy, more experimental, more playful, and often more interesting than what you get from the larger glossier magazines and journals.

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Submissions Roaring In

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We’re excited to report that we’ve already started accepting poetry and fiction for our inaugural issue of Two Cities Review, which with your help will launch in March 2014. We’ve seen some exciting poems and stories from new artists and writers that are willing to break the boundaries of genre. We welcome your submissions at old.twocitiesreview.com/submit and we hope you’ll consider a donation to help launch us on our maiden voyage.
Donate $30, and you’ll have VIP access to one of our launch parties. Since we are a two-city operation, we are planning to have launch parties in both Boston and New York, so whichever city is more convenient for you is where you’ll have access.
We are also experienced work shoppers and editors ourselves, and I’m a college instructor of creative writing; donate $100 and you’ll receive an in-depth critique of your manuscript.
Keep visiting our page for updates on our campaign, and I hope you’ll consider donating a little to launch our review!

My LEAST Favorite Things About Boston

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Part of being a city inhabitant is grumbling about it in one way or another. All of us have likes and dislikes about our chosen cities, and if we’re going to be honest, then we have to own up to the dislikes. Today I’m discussing my least favorite parts about living in Boston — and I hope you’ll sound off in the comments about the downsides of your own town.

Rude drivers

Boston is legendary for its rude drivers. The once a week that I use a car, I always end up ready to give someone the finger and stream a few curses out my window. Boston drivers don’t know that blinkers exist and will veer over into someone else’s lane without warning. They think any red light is a right-on-red situation, and they like darting across an intersection or cutting you off. The bigger the car, the worse the offender, I’ve noticed; it’s as if being higher off the ground makes you feel disconnected from the world and therefore not beholden to its rules and courtesies. Thanks, Massholes!

Darkness, slush, cold.

We’re starting to enter the Dark Time of New England, the time that comes every year; somehow, it always catches me unpleasantly by surprise. The first snow fall will be magical, but in a matter of days it will become a series of foul brown cliffs and brackish pools of muddy water, clogging the streets and muddying my boots. There’s also no escape from the cold — somewhere around February it begins to feel like an animal that is stalking you, trying to hunt you down. There are definite downsides to living in New England, and nearly six months out of the year, weather is one of them.

Parking rules/ticket happy police

Like most cities, Boston is a headache for drivers, not only in the traffic department. Just try to find a parking space downtown — I dare you! It’s no better in Cambridge; and the traffic cops are particularly zealous. I turned away from my parked car once to run upstairs for a quarter, and by the time I got down a meter officer was ticketing me. I held up my quarter, but he said that he had already printed the ticket — too late, buster. I’m all for strict traffic enforcement, so that the city remains a friendly place for pedestrians, but the parking rules can be truly byzantine sometimes. Check out the sign featured in this post and try to figure out yourself if you can park in this spot.

All up, cities can be a nightmare for drivers in particular, and many cities seem to have been built precisely where the weather was its most miserable. But in spite of all that, there’s still plenty of love about Boston; there’s even a slightly smug feeling among Bostonians about how the misery hardens us and makes us tougher. There’s a general feeling that to live in a place without seasons is just a little wimpy. It’s seasons that make you feel alive, Bostonians will say.

Kickstarter Project Launching Monday!

I’m very excited to report that our Kickstarter project has been approved and we will be launching this very Monday, December 9th! By visiting our page, you’ll be able to see a video of us talking about the review’s mission; you’ll be able to contribute to our review’s launch effort and get some swag in return, ranging from a mention in the review to personalized workshopping from our experienced editors.

Stay tuned, and get ready to hear more about our project beginning this Monday. Spread the word! We hope you’ll consider supporting our exciting new literary adventure.

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Thankful for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I had a peaceful, intimate dinner with close family and friends, and got to come home bearing tupperware filled with leftovers. I’ve got enough to live off probably for the next week, and they’re good, gourmet leftovers too. I grew up with Francophiles for parents, so instead of sweet potatoes and marshmallows, or mashed potatoes, we have gratin dauphinois and red pepper gratin, with sauteed mushrooms. It’s quite a feast.
Every family can be proud of the dinner traditions that they manage to put on the table, and every family has their own special flair. Our family might have a French-style Thanksgiving, but other families are doing just fine with their own choices as well. There’s something truly charming about this odd, idiosyncratic holiday; on one level, we can be a little sickened by the commercialization of it (Black Friday started even earlier this year), but on another level, we can enjoy the simple ideal at its heart. A meal with friends and family, and being humbled by all the things we can be grateful for, is plenty to celebrate. It might even have more religious meaning these days than other holidays; sitting down and breaking bread with friends is one of the world’s earliest demonstrations of religious feeling.
Now the craziness of the Christmas shopping season is upon us. I tried driving by a Target near my house and couldn’t find a single parking space. Not one, in a vast sea of parking. It’s a little horrifying, but Black Friday does pass us safely by, and then we can get back to living our lives. Soon the first snows will start to dot the sidewalks of our cities, and it’ll be beautiful, at least until it lands.