Interview With Grand Central Review
Authors: Richard Monaco; Scott Thompson; Leverett Butts
What makes Grand Central Review a unique part of the publishing community?
Scott: We publish good writing without being constrained to one genre, region, or subject. Good is good.
Leverett: We don’t discriminate by genre or “literariness” (insert finger quotes). We believe that good writing goes beyond genre. We look for interesting pieces that are well done. We have published literary fiction, fantasy, I’m looking at a horror story we may put in the next one. We look at creative nonfiction, reviews, even literary essays. As long as they’re good and interesting (and we have the space) they’re in.
Also when we reject something, we always try to suggest revisions that could swing the decision should the author resubmit. We want to encourage new writers.
Richard: Our main strength is our eclectic approach: We want a wide sampling of works from various fields.
What adjective would you personally use to describe your journal?
Do you have a specific aesthetic preference? How would you describe that aesthetic?
Richard: No preference, no. I know beauty when I see it.
Leverett: I don’t have a specific aesthetic preference per se, but I simplicity: I like fiction that can communicate deep emotion and themes with little frilly ornamentation. I’m thinking here of Neil Gaiman’s work, for example, or Richard’s. It’s not that I particularly want simple stark sentences like Hemingway necessarily; I just don’t like work that is dense and over-worded for the sake of sounding smarter or deeper or something. I find this particularly annoying in scholarly work, which is why when we publish scholarly articles, we tend to publish work that can be understood by non-literary folks fairly easily.
Scott: I do enjoy great website design and good graphic design, but for this site we wanted to put the attention on the work of the writer or artist, not the website, so the site is clean and simple. Even the line drawings are created so that the writing is the most powerful element.
What has been the most challenging part about being an editor?
Leverett: Finding the time to do it between my work as a lit professor and my own writing (not to mention trying to fit in personal and family time as well).
Richard: Helping people shape their work more effectively. Also finding enough material; we are only on our second issue so getting the word out about us is a slow process.
Scott: Art is limitless, but the pages we should share are not, so finding the balance is the most difficult part.
How has your work with Grand Central Review affected your writing? Has it affected your reading life?
Leverett: I’m not entirely sure that GCR has affected my writing other than giving me an excuse to procrastinate on it, but then again, my writing sometimes gives me an excuse to procrastinate editing. I can’t think of any way that it has affected my reading either except that I have come in contact with some really good writers recently that I hope to hear more from.
Scott: My writing is always evolving, and I hope improving, but I’m not sure yet how it has affected my writing. You don’t always notice those things at the moment. This might be a good question to ask again in five years. It has affected my reading in that I’ve been exposed to some beautiful writers and artists who I might not have noticed otherwise. This is good, because it was one of our goals from the beginning, to find great talent and to share their work with others.
Richard: It hasn’t. Too late for that. My writing is what it is by now. It hasn’t really altered my reading that much either.
What is the next exciting thing happening at Grand Central Review?
Richard: The next issue
Scott: Maybe t-shirts. I’d risk excommunication for a good t-shirt. Beyond that, we’ll continue to improve the usability of the website to improve the experience for everyone.
Leverett: We’ve been working on some ancillary merchandise like the t-shirts Scott mentioned and some coffee mugs and stuff. I’ve been working on some designs through Café Press but nothing we’re really ready to put out yet.