Apr/May 2009  •   Reviews & Interviews

Five Quick and Dirty Lit Site Reviews

Review by Scott Malby

The following are the author's opinions and not those of Eclectica Magazine or its editors.


The time and effort it takes to produce an exemplary online literary journal is considerable. For five years Tryst has managed to stay ahead of the game by producing a cogent, entertaining and valuable product issue after issue. What it takes is an overall editorial vision that is consistent through time together with the ability to attract like minded artists and associate editors. Art, fiction, interviews and poetry are its strengths. February, 2009 was its fifth anniversary issue. The site is tight, easily navigable, and refreshingly understated. What seems to matter to it is the excellence of the material featured and its effective online presentation. Tryst also appears to be able to attract artists of merit and keep their allegiance. The poetic work of John Sweet and Luis C. Berriozabal are cases in point. Somehow, this journal manages to communicate the idea of artistic "community" in a positive sense. Mia Tryst appears to be the editor in chief. Despite the use of guest editors, different associate editors, and changes over time, this journal has adhered to its core vision and direction. This commitment has served it well. I wish it many more years of excellence.



I have to admit I've encountered this journal often in the past; its cute bunny logo threw me off. I wanted to shoot it rather than hug it. I was wrong. Narrativity is an experiment in fiction and theoretical direction. In reading it I am reminded of certain French literary writers of the thirties through fifties. Thus, it is based on modernistic, avant garde approaches rather then contemporary post-modern idioms. On the other hand, it is one of the freshest, intellectually entertaining sites currently available in English. Here, theory is the center of an imploding cosmos. One starts from the inside of situations and moves outward only to find oneself on the inside again. It's like a Mobius strip of the literary arts. The writers profiled are lively and entertaining. The subject matter is not the important thing here. One well written story in issue number three borders on the pornographic; I guess it would fall under trans-gender studies. It's as if the material has been poured from a series of blenders, all the while making a perfectly rational and understandable concoction. I don't mean it's Surrealistic or Dada. It's something else. Once, one might have called it a fringe literature. The site appears to be sponsored by San Francisco State University, Department of Education. I liked it a lot. The editors know how to entertain and educate at the same time. If you are interested in theoretical and contemporary trends in writing you've got to give Narrativity a perusal. I know no other site that does this sort of thing as well. It's like an academic, theoretical version of Hermenaut.



Here, you will find articles from Hermenaut's print edition. Its online offerings are extensive, trendy, funny, entertaining, relevant and uncompromisingly uncomformative. Learn why "Uncle Microsoft is a pervert," "Baudelaire yearns for extinction," and or why "Philip K. Dick and fake authenticity" matter at all. You will encounter the glorious English language morphing into its twenty-first century counterpart. This journal deserves the appellation of "Cult Classic." Columns, reviews and features are organized in an easily accessible manner. Popular and literary culture is viewed under the fracturing lens of some of the most interesting writers and commentators around. The latest date I could find inside the site was the year 2000. I don't know if this journal is still being published (I doubt it is) but if it is and I were President Obama, I'd set these writers loose on Washington and rename this journal the "Congressional Record."


Poetry Super Highway

I can remember once reading Ron Silliman's blog and finding a quirky, dismissive attitude regarding Poetry Super Highway. Silliman's judgment was that it was "un-vetted." This assessment was hasty and uncharitable. To get a good view of this journal you need to follow it over time. Rick Lupert's Poetry Super Highway is all about opening the poetry scene up and creating a positive, inclusive environment. It is Vox Populi, for and of the people. Once a week one or two poets are featured. I regard this site as a creative, important, in-your-face L.A. landmark. It risks everything and sometimes gains a great deal. Only by visiting this site on a periodic basis can one come to an understanding regarding its real importance. You never know what to expect. The work featured ranges from tyro to master. It is not style dependent and my guess is that most of its readers run the gamut in terms of ages. Once a year Lupert features a poetry contest; podcasts are featured as well. There is also a "great poetry exchange" where everyone who submits a poetry book or chapbook gets one in return. Rick Lupert has devoted an incredible amount of effort and time to this site and recognition for his unstinting efforts are long overdue. The site also features a host of other resources. Yes, it is a little uneven but it is also a great deal of fun and was created from a delightfully twisted and well-meaning heart. This editor is tremendously committed to poetry in all its forms and increasing general interest in it. If I were stalled in a poetry elevator I could do far worse than have Rick Lupert there to keep me amused.


Southern Ocean Review

The Southern Ocean Review was New Zealand's first literary ezine. Its strengths were poetry, stories and special features. Sadly, its last and final issue is now online. This was an international online magazine of the arts. I will miss it. It was not flashy or in-your-face attention getting. Rather, it proved over time to be responsible, sensitive, reliable and could be counted on for some fine writing in each issue. I, for one, hope the editor will continue regarding her online work. Thank you, Southern Ocean Review, for your commitment and efforts regarding fostering an international literary environment. Many will miss you. You did more than your part regarding making the Internet a worthwhile place of discovery.