THE BLOG @ TIR
April 16, 2014
Have no fear, TIR submitters! Our online submission application was not affected by the Heartbleed bug. Your credit card information is safe.
Submittable, the company that runs our submission system, has issued the following statement:
The Heartbleed bug is a very serious exploit and it affects a very large number of sites—big and small. Fortunately, Submittable's systems do not use OpenSSL, so we were unaffected by the Heartbleed bug. SSL connections to Submittable services were never at risk of being compromised.
Please note that just because Submittable was unaffected does not mean that your password is not at risk. If you used the same password on any other sites that were affected by the bug, then you probably want to take the extra precaution of changing that password on every site it was used.
We are using this as a "teachable moment" to remind our staff and customers:
—use a different password on every site
—change your passwords regularly on any sites where you store sensitive information
—use "good" passwords with a mix of letters and numbers
March 27, 2014
Counting down the days until the Mission Creek Festival? We are too! As you perfect your schedule for April 1 - 6, be sure to include some quality time with The Iowa Review:
- Make us your first stop on the Lit Crawl! Join us at MC Ginsberg on Friday, April 4 at 5 p.m. for readings by Dora Malech and Inara Verzemnieks.
- Visit us at the 5th Annual Small Press and Literary Magazine Book Fair! Swing by our table at The Mill between 11 and 6 on Saturday, April 5, to chat with the editors and to pick up a copy of our latest issue.
- Meet this year’s fiction judge…AND our new Editor-in-Chief! On April 5, grab some coffee at the Prairie Lights Café, and stick around until noon for a Q&A session with Rachel Kushner, hosted by our EIC, Harry Stecopoulos.
- Join us for a reading! We’ll be back at The Mill at 6 p.m. on April 5 for a reading by this year’s TIR contest judge in fiction, Rachel Kushner.
Kushner & Stecopoulos:
We hope to see you there!
March 24, 2014
Lindsey, a combat veteran, originally submitted the story to our 2012 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans contest, for which judge Robert Olen Butler named it runner-up. Lindsey studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Mississippi. His writing has also appeared in the Harper Perennial anthology Forty Stories, Fourteen Hills, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Yalobusha Review.
He graciously agreed to a quick interview about the story (which you can now read here).
What prompted you to write "Evie M."?
The initial burst—more tone than story—came in communion with a job I had some time ago. It was a decent job, alongside mostly decent people, doing work I could leave at the office. Yet it was ominous: the hierarchy and protocol, the anxiety over benefits. Anyhow, I wrote this sketch and sat on it. Evie had not yet come along.
How would you describe your main character, for those who haven't yet read the story?
For Evie, a veteran, even the trivial is terrorizing. Over-microwaving a sirloin steak is on par with a memory of assault. Perhaps this is a result of war—itself a juxtaposition of mundane and atrocious—or maybe it's because she just doesn't fit her surroundings. Regardless, she grows desperate to find something stable, something "pure" that won't fail her (or that she won't fail). The related anxiety is crushing her.
How did your experience as a veteran inform the story?
In a large way, my inability to write about combat led to this story. I spent years scouring my experience for anything of traditional war narrative "value." Ultimately, I needed Evie, and the (too often invisible) war story she represents. Second, I needed to refocus on the tiniest elements of war, the pinpricks of postwar complication that never let you be...and then amplify those for the character.
Congratulations to O.A.! We can't wait to see the story in the new anthology (due out in October). Pre-order it here.
March 7, 2014
So long, boring bus rides to work—and welcome, Highbrowse!
Highbrowse—highbrow.se—is a brilliant new website that aggregates writing (poems, stories, essays, interviews, book reviews) freely available on the websites of literary periodicals like The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, Witness, Ninth Letter, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poets & Writers, Virginia Quarterly, Bookforum, The American Scholar (and lots more), presenting the titles in an easy-to-scan format, including—get this—the approximate time it'll take you to read each piece. And each title links back to the original website where the text is posted, directing much-needed traffic to litmag websites.
We were so excited that we begged Highbrowse's developers, Sam Griswold and Chris Laursen, for a quick interview:
TIR: What led you to create the site?
SG: My main inspiration was simply feeling overwhelmed about how much good writing there was out there that I was missing or didn't even know about. I was actually looking to subscribe to a new magazine/journal and wanted to get an overview of what was out there and then came up with this idea. I also feel like a ton of great writing goes unnoticed and deserved to have an audience and a chance to be read.
I feel like there are some good sites like Longreads that point out some good writing, but Highbrowse is a way for people to get it from the source. When you stick with the same sources, sometimes it becomes hard to discover something new and different.
TIR: Did you have primarily mobile-device users in mind?
SG: I didn't initially have mobile users in mind, but my partner in the project (Chris Laursen), really pushed that angle and now, yes, I believe that the site is better geared toward mobile readers in that it allows people to find stuff to read on-the-go and to fit their time schedule/commutes with the reading times. I would hope, though, that people will use it both on mobile devices and regular computers—basically whenever anyone needs something to read!
TIR: How do you keep the site up-to-date? Do you manually check each journal's website for new online content? How often? Can we help to make your job easier?
SG: Right now, we update the site entirely manually. We basically have all our sources on a calendar and check them whenever a new issue is due out. It is a lot of work, and I hope that one day we can come up with a system of having the sources themselves upload their free articles and maybe include a short description along with it.
CL: It would definitely help to have an RSS feed from each site. Sources should also make sure their content is accessible to services like Instapaper, Readability, and Pocket. They should also consider having OpenGraph data on every article—http://ogp.me. This makes it easier to share the articles via Facebook and other platforms.
Thanks, Sam and Chris! Love the (high)brow graphic.
January 21, 2014
The narcissism began to seep: through Teju Cole’s narrator, into my paperback-clutching hands, on an airplane from Chicago to New York. It was my first time back in New York since I’d left, six months ago, after living there for a little more than three years. The city demands approximation: about a half a year ago; more than three years; an airplane, suspended over someplace in between two other places. And also that seeping—the empathy with the narrator I couldn’t quite achieve but didn’t mind not achieving because that seemed, in a way, the point of the book, the proof that no matter how open a place or person is, sharing emotion after emotion, there’s still much left beneath the storytelling or, sometimes, literally buried beneath the city.
Open City (Random House, 2012) is the story of narrator Julius’ wandering through New York, and, briefly, Brussels. It is his contemplation of immigration and nationality in the U.S., his fleetingly depicted but often strong friendships, the way we manufacture brotherhood as a way to both unite and distance ourselves from humanity. It is, too, about a city in flux and the way certain cities, like New York, are built of layers and rise vertically, covering the topography below but never quite flattening it into oblivion. So when I boarded a subway for the first time in months, after buying a weekly Metrocard and missing the train because I kept swiping my credit card too quickly or too slowly, I felt nothing had accumulated in my time away. I could pretend it was the same city accepting the same character it had when I first moved there, nearly four years earlier.
Then, on the subway, I returned to the book. One cannot fall in love with this narrator. He is too distant and too honest at once, and towards the end, I found myself believing another character more than the narrator—because she seemed nicer? Because she might have made a nicer real-life person? Or because she was not the narrator, not the voice I had been instructed to trust and therefore reflexively questioned from the get-go? Or because what she accused him of made me immediately believe her and not him, because in these kinds of accusations, that’s usually the way things go, just as in New York, eventually something will happen that feels like the worst and that feels like it could only happen and could only feel like the worst in such a vertically closed and superficially open city. But that’s all hyperbole, because the worst never does happen; there is always the possibility (the optimism to achieve!) something even more unbearable. The trick, Cole’s Julius shows, is that in New York, the city is never the one to not bear it.
I did not walk so much in New York because the novel I was reading when I arrived was, in part, about walking. I walked because that’s what you do there to kill time, because there are always destinations to be invented and a sense of accomplishment regardless of whether you reach them or buy anything when you’re there. I walked because the soles of my shoes have begun to wear more slowly and I have yet needed to make a trip to the cobbler in Iowa City. I walked, too, because it is what I did when I lived in New York and was not, as I was most recently, just visiting. Julius is only just visiting when he’s in Brussels, but he feels impermanent in New York, like he is awestruck by it for the first time despite being world-weary restless. He is a perpetual tourist, stopping in his steps to gawk, never in a hurry but always moving somewhere—if not forward or backward, still somewhere.
Rachel Z. Arndt is an MFA student in the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, and an editorial assistant at The Iowa Review.