Occasional Literary Magazine Reviews: The NY Tyrant #4

Title:  The NY Tyrant

Vol. 4, Issue 1


Theme: I don’t know, Zombie Red Dawn?

Featured Names on the Cover: Noy Holland, Gordon Lish, Padgett Powell, Carrie Cooperider, Catherine Foulkrod, Brandon Hobson, Gary Lutz.

What: The literary magazine from Giancarlo DiTrapano. I’ll admit right here and right now that I’ve never read an issue of the famed Tyrant before. I’m usually too shy to order lit mags (shy=cheap), because of their hit-and-miss qualities, I’d rather buy full-length books. But that’s why I’m doing this project, to read more lit mags, therefore more writers, and then buy more lit stuff. I have nobel intentions. But I usually see DiTrapano’s name pop up on the HTMLG and became familiar with his tastes that way. Because of that, I knew what I was getting into with this. Though I’m not familiar with too many of the featured names, (Gordon Lish!!!), the guts didn’t disappoint. Mark Leidner! Paula Bomer! Tao Lin! Robert Lopez! Amber Sparks!

Format: I need an internship at a printer to figure out this perfect size. What’s this an A4? Whatever. It’s wide enough to spread comfortably on a table, but slim enough to carry easily in one hand. When I extend my hand across the page, my ring finger and pinky dangle off (TMI?).

But let’s quibble a bit. Some of the contributor photos in the back are grainy and digitized somewhat, like your grandma color-corrected your childhood birthday party photos. But then oddly enough it made me more attention to the contributors and their bios, prompting me to read the Hob Broun and Rachel Glaser stories. (Win for me in that regard, and win for NY Tyrant—your little scheme worked).

Why (or Why Not To) Read It:

Read this mag for two reasons at least, and then I’ll give you more reasons but I’ll start with two: Paula Bomer and Rachel Glaser. Bomer’s “Metamorphosis” was frightening and Nine Months has been sitting on my shelf for about 4 months, and well, I’m about to extend my fingers all over that book in the near future. Bomer writes blasé like no one’s business, but it should all be our business, this is a good story.

Okay, you knock that one out, and then you have to turn to Glaser’s “The Ellens.” Frightening too, except Glaser extends out her character while Bomer tightens hers up. Link these two together because they’re similar excisions into identity and worth and how others function around a person. Solid gems.

Let’s keep going with the positivity.

Mark Leidner may be my favorite poet right now, his Twitter feed keeps my spirits up, and okay, shut up, I’ll buy your book, just don’t stab me with your “Chopsticks,” and let’s just skip the Chinese takeout.

What next? Gordon Lish. Sure, he’s in here.

Robert Lopez. He and Leidner represent the same totem in my head—writers I should be reading. More motivation: “The Sky Was Everywhere Like Water.”

Don’t read this for the Tao Lin story, I’m a fan of his, seems like this is a minor piece, not sure if it’s in his new book, probably even the biggest “fans” can avoid this one. But, this is a stylistic change in some ways, the sentences are very long, there are a lot of commas, but he’s just as precise in his description of action.

Josiah Summerville, take it and run. The character in his story, “A Big Game” is an unconfident, but overbearing jock, the tone veers between cramped nervousness to casual goofiness. Good, good.

I can’t ever get into Padgett Powell. Sorry.

The ending query letter is a classic. And if you’re in prison reading this, you can get a copy of NY Tyrant for free. Take advantage of that, just saying.

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