Truth Told Slant: The History of the American Literary Magazine

“Literature is a conversation…and so, too, is this book.”


March 2, 2013


Paper DreamsMADISON, NJ—In 2002, Travis Kurowski spent his free time wandering the university library, spending hours pulling books from shelves, hoping to find something new. He felt a sense of possibility, that out of all those titles, between thousands of covers there is an, “…implied promise that interesting things will be found.” It was in this way that he read his first literary magazine, an issue of The Paris Review, and eventually found that each literary magazine, “creates its own communities of readers,” who take part in a conversation about new, changing American literature.

Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (Atticus Books, $29.95, August 13, 2013) shows how literary magazines hold the history and hope of American writing, and how we can trace American culture through this dynamic platform in the same way we do through books.

As Kurowski writes in his introduction, this project began as a special edition of The Mississippi Review in 2008 for the 100th anniversary of the contemporary literary magazine. It was only in this, another special issue in the Missouri Review, and a book on similar topics published in 1978 that the history of the American literary magazine has been collected.

Paper Dreams brings together a conversation that has interested passionate editors and writers for more than 150 years. The book covers the history of the American literary magazine from its pre-origins—as far back as late 17th Century France, to its present forms and to speculation of its future using both primary and secondary documents. A few of the authors of these excerpts and articles include literary heroes from the past such as Pierre Bayle and Ezra Pound, as well as authors, editors, and scholars still working today, such as Jayne Marek, Jay Neugeboren, Roxane Gay, and many more.

Paper Dreams also includes a series of essays by contemporary writers on the literary magazine such as T.C. Boyle, Lucy Ives, Rick Moody, and others. The book ends with a detailed timeline, and extra information for writers and teachers.

Paper Dreams arrives in bookstores August 13, 2013.


Travis Kurowski is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at York College of Pennsylvania. His writings have appeared in a number of literary magazines, and he is a columnist about literary magazines for Poets & Writers. He has worked on the editorial staffs at Tin House, Opium Magazine, and Mississippi Review.


  LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS FOR Paper Dreams         

Gwen Allen
Andrew Foster Altschul
Jane Armstrong
David Barringer
Frederick Barthelme
Pierre Bayle
Laura van den Berg
Paul Bixler
T.C. Boyle
Aaron Burch
Katie Chase
Billy Collins
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Len Fulton
Megan M. Garr
Roxane Gay
Keith Gessen
Aaron Gilbreath
Peter Gizzi
Mary Grimm
Raymond Hammond
Marcelle Heath
Eli Horowitz
Lucy Ives
Abby Ann Arthur Johnson
Richard Kostelanetz
Travis Kurowski
Linda Lappin
Herbert Leibowitz
Ben Leubner
Ralph Lombreglia
Jayne Marek
Shara McCallum
David Messineo
Harriet Monroe
Speer Morgan
Ian Morris
Rick Moody
Gorham Munson
Jay Neugeboren
Charles Newman
Gary Percesepe
Benjamin Percy
Felix Pollak
Andrew Porter
Ezra Pound
Hilda Raz
Stacey Richter
Nicholas Ripatrazone
Jill Allyn Rosser
Marco Roth
Benjamin Samuel
Kyle Schlesinger
Jim Shepard
Eric Staley
Jodee Stanley
Algernon de Vivier Tassin
G.C. Waldrep
Adrian Todd Zuniga

Atticus Books is a multimedia press that specializes in literary fiction.  Atticus is run by founder and publisher Dan Cafaro and managing editor Libby O’Neill.  Visit us on the web at


Press Contact: Abby Hess
abbyh [at] atticusbooks [dot] net

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