Although doomsday preppers herald the end of literature that will surely come with the death of the printed word, online lit mags might just be changing the landscape for the better—it’s so much easier for indie and underground literature to reach readers when tangibility is a non-issue. Still, few online lit mags actually engage with the way we live and work and browse mindlessly on the Internet today. It’s easy to come up with a snappy, possibly nonsensical name and write a manifesto about why your independent literary publication is doing something different—often self-described as ‘weird’ or ‘absurd’ or ‘into everything from cat gifs to string theory’—of which Jonathan Franzen probably wouldn’t approve.
We also love the place where LOLcats meet particle physics, but too often online lit mags (and the writing they publish) feel like a random combination of quirks that don’t actually say anything about how and why we live our lives. Our ten picks strike a balance between e-savviness and good, old-fashioned saying stuff.
Although they also publish a tiny book of ‘experimental fiction’, what’s great about LA-based theNewerYork is their pretty much daily online content, which is always illustrated with something just as weird as the fiction itself. In terms of genre, they reject it; the favored form could be classified by what it’s not: short stories or poetry. Tags include ‘Classifieds’, ‘Collage’ and ‘Unfamous Quotes’.
Featuring writers that range from the sort-of traditional to the trendy and controversial, Juked doesn’t define its aesthetic, but in general it’s got the kind of zeitgeistian drug use and disillusionment you want from anything described as ‘indie’, all tied up with a clear design and blessed readability.
[Pank] has been accused of many atrocities against literature, but the monthly online and occasional print magazine has been a mainstay in publishing experimental literature and new writers since 2006. The editors take advantage of all online has to offer with supplemental media, like audio and a great blog.
Striking artwork and photography plus solid, semi-traditional writing that grapples with issues both political and emotional, TAR is great for when you want something to make you laugh and cry and still feel particularly present-day.
You know we love a good playlist, so naturally we’re into the Fwriction Review, where writers pick a song to go along with their work, creating a musical portrait of their editorial preferences, which tend toward characters who ‘do karaoke the way some people binge on ice cream’
Perhaps the most online of these online lit mags, alt lit fixture Internet Poetry is a tumblr (obvi) that features the highbrow/lowbrow mash-up crucial to a time period when international politics pops up alongside Miley Cyrus scandals. Think screenshots and shutterstock photos that make the reader consume poetry the same way he would his social media.
Citing Cormac McCarthy and Michel Houllebecq as its dark-circled influences, Fiddleblack is serious about its mission to understand the self and place through the lens of ‘antipastoralism’ and ‘concept horror’. They also do a podcast.
Helmed by anonymous alt lit personality Frank Hinton, Metazen publishes a little somethin’ somethin’ every day. The site rejects the idea of nonfiction and challenges the impulse to label work as such by frequently publishing ‘Frank’ stories featuring a character who is both the same Frank who edits the site and also ‘not the same at all’.
This international poetry magazine started in print, but its emphasis on multimedia shifted its focus to digital. Also incorporating an audio component, Rattapallax emphasizes poetry as a means for understanding the global human experience.
With a title snatched from a Rimbaud poem, this online journal is dedicated to clear writing that isn’t boring. Scrolling through past issues offers a wealth of references that range from the obtusely historical to the super current, and each issue is formulated around a loose theme outlined by the editors at the start of each issue.
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