"Lexus Magazine" Takes Over For "The Atlantic Monthly"
The potentates of the "literary fiction" genre have fallen on hard times lately.

But that doesn't mean they don't still have first class taste.


"The Atlantic Monthly" stopped publishing fiction in 2005, after 150 years of putting out stories by the likes of Henry James, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway.

From the 2005 "USA Today" article, which talks about the decision:

"The challenge is 'real estate' â€" space in the magazine â€" at a time when in-depth narrative reporting from around the country and the world has become more important than ever," the editors said. "Everyone knows that the surface features of the news are being reported faster all the time, in smaller and smaller bits. But explaining the deeper features of the world requires a different and more expansive kind of reporting â€" one that has increasingly become The Atlantic's signature. That reporting consumes a lot of space."

This was hard news to take for some fiction writers, who thought that "reporting" could be done by any "asshole" with an expense account and a "tape recorder," and that the whole point of fiction was to get at the "deeper features of the world."

If "The Atlantic Monthly" wasn't going to fight for the place of narrative and the imagination in the modern experience, then who would? Who would fight that loser battle for all us misguided, unlanded squints without Deep Throat connections in Surinam?

The answer is "Lexus Magazine," the in-house magazine for Lexus owners, enthusiasts, manufacturers, and dealers.

I have always said that there is nothing as durable or exquisite as the prose of Raymond Carver -- unless it is the chassis of the brand new Lexus SVI Series Extended Luxury Beyondcar 51. And that's why, with the easy leather-bound downshift of a sensible person who has it all, "Lexus Magazine" has begun publishing original fiction. The fiction can be about anything, as long as it is about the new Lexus that is coming out, which is currently a car called the IS F.

Literary writers selling Lexi with their precious prose? Is this what it has come to? Selling out used to mean writing genre stuff -- detective novels, porn, mysteries, horror. Now it means writing fiction that is actually owned by a company and used to sell products. It would be depressing, if it weren't so hilarious!

Currently for "Lexus," some of your favorite writers are taking turns on a lengthy story about the IS F called "In the Belly of the Beast." You can even read it for free HERE, unlike having to shell out eight dollars for a copy of "TAM," which does NOT publish untrue things.

The press release tag-line for this endeavor: FORGET KEROUAC! GO ON THE ROAD WITH LEXUS ORIGINAL FICTION! I would like to forget Kerouac. I would not like to go on the road with Lexus original fiction. So I guess I am conflicted.

So far, authors who have contributed to "In the Belly of the Beast" include:

"Arthur Phillips, educated at Harvard and based in New York, won the "The Los Angeles Time's" Art Seidenbaum Award for Best First Fiction for "Prague" (2003). His follow-up novel, "The Egyptologist" (2004), appeared on 12 best-fiction lists, and "Angelica" (2007) was praised as "spellbinding" by the Washington Post and "spectacular" by The New Yorker."

And also:

"Prize-winning poet Richard McCann, author of "Ghost Letters" (1994), saw his first prose book, "Mother of Sorrows" (2005), cited by the New York Times for its "rare thematic richness." Pulitzer Prizeâ€"winning author Michael Cunningham (The Hours) hailed the work as "almost unbearably beautiful" and "intricately felt." Based in Washington, D.C., McCann teaches in the MFA department of American University."

AND, last but not least:

"Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the best-selling novels "Prep" (2005) and "The Man of My Dreams" (2007), which are being translated into 25 languages. "Prep" was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times. Sittenfeld is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop."

So, you see, what they are doing is respectable.

The final installment of "In the Belly of the Beast" will be penned by Jane Smiley. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel "A Thousand Acres." She also won the O. Henry Award for her short story "Lily." It was published in "The Atlantic Monthly," back when that was their angle. "Lily" is not about a Lexus -- although the first line does mention a green Ford Torino by name.

I guess Ford doesn't pay competitive rates anymore. I guess the real story here is simply that Smiley has switched teams.


Posted by miracle on Tue, 22 Apr 2008 00:53:34 -0400 -- permanent link

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