Letters to a Young Literarian

Posted by Tobias Carroll

Longtime Vol.1 readers may recall a writeup last fall of the “On the Well-Tempered Sentence” event held at Manhattan’s Center for Fiction. At the event, said institution mentioned that they would be launching a literary magazine in the not-so-distant future; apparently, that day has come, and The Literarian is now live.

It’s edited by Dawn Raffel, whose Carrying the Body is highly recommended. The stories, at least in the first issue, are a mixture of original work and reprints. The former includes work from the likes of Terese Svoboda and Stuart Dybek; the latter includes “Friday” by Vyacheslav Pyetsukh, which opens as follows:

It’s astonishing, but from time immemorial the Russian sense of self has been under the dominion, even the yoke, of its native discourse. The Danes didn’t read their Kierkegaard for a hundred years, the French didn’t take orders from Stendhal until he turned up his toes, while in our country some school teacher from Saratov—the son of a priest—writes that for the sake of the nation’s future it would be good to learn to sleep on a bed of nails, and half the nation starts sleeping on a bed of nails. This sort of submissiveness to literary discourse is doubly astonishing because, with the exception of children and madmen, it’s clear as day to everyone that behind this very discourse lays merely the lifeless reflection of reality—a model.