The March 2017 issue of Open Letters Monthly marks the magazine’s 10th anniversary. I’m pretty sure that means it is 247 in internet years! I haven’t been with OLM since the very beginning, but I published my first essay there in 2009 and joined the editorial team in 2010, which means I was part of our 5th anniversary celebration, the “Critical Issue.” Our 10th anniversary issue is not themed, but its diversity of both subjects and styles is unified by our ongoing commitment to fulfilling our mission statement:
Open Letters is dedicated to the proposition that no writing which reviews the arts should be boring, back-patting, soft-pedaling, or personally compromised. We’ve all had the experience of reading a review that sparkled—one that combined an informed, accessible examination of its quarry with gamesome, intelligent, and even funny commentary. These are the pieces we tell our friends about and then vigorously debate.
Our mission here is to provide you with a wide variety of such reviews every month.
This month, those reviews include Steve Donoghue on a new book about “ostentatious martyr” Lady Jane Grey (or, as he prefers to call her, “Jane the Pretender”); Sam Sacks on two books making the case for literature’s special relevance in turbulent times; Nick Holdstock on Russian fabulist Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s The Return of Munchausen; Melissa Beck on the Indian classic of ill-fated lovers, Chemmeen; Kenyon Gradert on George Saunders’ historical (but very contemporary) Lincoln in Bardo; Jennifer Helinek on Elizabeth Kostova’s Shadow Land; Jessica Tvordi on Danielle Dutton’s captivating Margaret the First; me on a not-very-inspired (or inspiring) novel about WWI … and that’s not even all! As always, I hope you will head on over and read what interests you.
I think we are all feeling pretty proud of ourselves on this 10th anniversary. Enthusiasm is enough to get a project like Open Letters up and running, but to keep it going every month for a decade requires a lot of effort, a lot of trust, and also a certain kind of doggedness. Over the years the editors have had our share of disagreements, some of them vehement, but I think we would all agree that in spite of them — perhaps even, in a way, because of them — we have achieved something pretty remarkable. So here’s to us!
Sustaining Open Letters also depends on our contributors: one of the very best parts of this whole endeavor is working with so many smart, articulate, generous writers and having the privilege of showcasing the results. So here’s a heartfelt thanks to all of them — to all of you, since some of you are also readers of Novel Readings. What do you think: do we all have another 10 years in us?