Loving Lit Mags: Benjamin Samuel

In August, we publish Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine, a compilation of the continued history and conversations of the people who love new and interesting literature so much they spend their lives dedicated to sharing it with the world. But before we make history, it is only polite to introduce you to the literary magazines that most impress us — Atticus staff, authors, and associates.

Allow us the guilt-free pleasure of leading you to publications that have turned us into better writers and voracious readers and to hopefully, carry on the conversation.

Electric Literature's Recommended Reading

Some of the magazines we will highlight may have been on your radar for years, while others will be completely new. That’s why Benjamin Samuel, contributor to Paper Dreams, and editor at one of the most–if not the most–community-oriented literary magazines, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, chose to give us some of both.

Paris REview copy


The Obvious

McSweeney’s                          The Paris Review

Benjamin: It’s easy to be a fan of these magazines. Saying you like The Paris Review is like admitting you have a crush on the prettiest girl in school. McSweeney’s and The Paris Review are the twin lodestars of the lit mag publishing world. Long before I became an editor, I looked to The Paris Review for why literary magazines are important, and McSweeney’s showed me that literary magazines could be revolutionary.

The Not-Necessarily-So-Obvious

One Story   Armchair/Shotgun


Benjamin: One of the great joys of running and/or reading literary magazines is the promise of discovery. A lot of magazines attract readers by putting the name of a famous writer on their covers (usually it’s just an interview), and then fill their pages with work by unknown writers. It’s like giving an actor top billing for a cameo role. It’s something of a bait-and-switch that implies editors are hiding their lesser-known writers behind bigger names, or that they believe readers are only interested in famous writers. If a magazine has a reputation for publishing great writing, then the names of the writers don’t matter and readers will trust the editors. At least that’s the hope, and both One Story and Armchair/Shotgun are proving that to be true. One Story will never publish the same writer twice no matter who they are, and Armchair/Shotgun has a completely anonymous submissions process. Models like these benefit both readers and writers. And they’re putting the emphasis on the writing, which is what this is all about anyway.

 Post Contributor

benjamin samuel (1) Benjamin Samuel is the co-editor of Electric Literature—a non-profit independent publisher working to keep literature a vital part of popular culture—and its flagship magazine Recommended Reading. He has an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College, and his writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Daily News, The Ploughshares blog, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. He’s on Twitter at @benasam and @electriclit.

Find more recommendations for fantastic literary magazines here.

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