Monday, April 9, 2012

Six Questions For Mary J. Levine, Senior Editor, Anobium

Anobium publishes prose of 200-1,500 words and poetry of no more than 30ish lines for the print journal and reviews, visions, monologues, interviews and miscellany on its website. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

MJL: I am always attracted to pieces that have playful or unexpected turns of phrase, ironic contrivances, and anything that proffers a blatant homage to folks like Jorge Luis Borges, or Roberto Bolano, or everyone who has ever ghostwritten a geometry textbook. Why? Because the Literary World is beige, and pedantic, and suburban, and I like my writing seeped in Day-glo.


SQF: What are the top three reasons a story/poem is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

MJL: While we have never applied a Method of Critique to our submissions, I believe that there are some traits common to work we reject. Often we like to say that the submission itself may be 'good,' but not entirely appropriate for our so-called project. We generally turn away stories that involve abject protagonists sweltering in hot, urban apartments, fictions thinly veiled as matricidal/patricidal memoirs, and poetry about moonlight. Now, if you put the apartment on a moon (doesn't have to be Earth's moon) and dedicate the rock to the Abolition of All Mothers Everywhere, you might be onto something interesting.


SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important that character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.

MJL: Plot and character are equally as important insofar as both are ultimately trumped by style. Nietzsche writes, “''To give style' to one's character -- a great and rare art! He exercises it who surveys all that his nature presents in strength and weakness and then molds it to an artistic plan until everything appears as art and reason, and even the weaknesses delight the eye.” Though Nietzsche is referring to the character of an individual, there is no major difference between an individual and a depiction. All are appropriate through the same faculties and weighed against the same arbitrations. The best writing is thus multidimensionally conscious; that is, conscious of all qualities of experience, and of the ironies of coherence.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

MJL: Some pieces are rejected out of the gate. Other pieces make it past the first 'round' of rejections. We make our final selection out of this list, but not everybody makes the cut. For those that make it farther in this process, we provide comments.

However, we are sure to state that if an author is curious about a rejection, we will answer any questions they might have.


SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?

MJL: To read, assess, critique, and ultimately improve. The best writing is collaborative, and in many cases, an editor is just as important as a writer. Too many writers forget this, and too many editors neglect this.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

MJL: You might do well to ask how many authors we publish per volume. So I will ask. How many authors do I/we publish per volume? Usually no less than 15 and no more than 20. It's not always a set number. We have been receiving 300+ submissions per period, and that number keeps growing.

Thank you, Mary. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 4/12--Six Questions for Athena Dixon DeMary, Co-editor, Z-composition

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