All year I tear out stories from The New Yorker Magazine, some from Harper's, and occasionally something from The Atlantic. I do it with the intent of reading, of learning. One time, I even started a small notebook to keep a list of the stories and their authors and my own reactions to them.
But today, the day after Thanksgiving, I am feeling abstemious and a little miserly with my time. I want to don green eyeshades, narrow my eyes, and send stacks of paper to the recycle container. The forecast calls for rain today. The house is stuffed with food. I ate cold turkey and a red navel orange for breakfast, a not altogether felicitous accompaniment to a pot of French Roast coffee.
But when I begin to turn pages, I change my mind. Or to be more precise, I decide to feed my mind with these words.
I'll start with the top of this random, unread stack and make notes in future short posts as I go along.
I am not a reviewer. There will be no reviewerly phrases here. Don't count on full sentences, either. It's a list. A scan before recyling or — in certain rare cases — saving for further exploration of an author's work.
When this set of stacks (New Yorker, Harpers & The Atlantic) is depleted, I'll start on the lit mag stacks I've accumulated this year.
Do I hope to finish these stacks before New Year's Eve? Not really, but I do hope to settle into a focused habit of reading literary magazines and published essays and short stories before the dawn of 2011. My purpose is simple: enlightened self-interest; to improve my own writing.
Besides, I would much rather be doing this today than wandering lost and lonely through some shopping mall.