Thursday, April 29, 2010

List List

 That's "List" as in a series of names or other items and "List" as in an area of combat (especially jousting tournaments). There's been a controversy over the last couple of days over the appearance of a new litmag ranking. See, if you're interested, the Faster Times' Literary Magazine Ranking. If you do go there, you'll see that the creator generously nodded in the direction of my own ranking, which has been around for five years now: the Perpetual Folly Pushcart Prize Ranking. He then goes on to explain his own system for the rankings that follow, which are divided into tiers. (My rankings don't include the slicks, but if I were to go subjective and put those magazines on the list, I'd put Atlantic and probably Playboy up there with New Yorker and Harper's. These are mega-credits, and very desirable.)

Some people, though, aren't thrilled with what Faster Times has done. Scott Garson, for example, explains his "contempt" here. But then Scott also admits he doesn't "love" my ranking either.

Here's the problem with lists. They're incomplete. My list, for example, only deals with magazines that have won a Pushcart Prize or Special Mention in the last decade. Which means that there are hundreds of magazines not on the list because, for better or worse, Pushcart doesn't capture a lot of online magazines. Hardly any, in fact. So there are some fine online magazines that aren't on my list. It's hard to be sure that a print magazine that has earned one point on my list--and so is tied for last place--is better than an online magazine that hasn't yet been recognized by the Pushcart folks. So my list is far from perfect. It's a tool, that's all. I don't yet have a tool to help me with online magazine submissions -- so far I just submit to the places I like. Probably that's not a bad approach.


MFAguy said...

Hey Cliff, I find that's guy's list kind of laughable. Vice Magazine rated above Sewanee and Salamagundi???

It's always difficult to rank journals, but several journals he rates lower are the ones read by agents and other writers and are held in high esteem.

Interestingly, a few days ago, I compiled my own lists (although only cursory and incomplete) for print, online, small, and student journals here:

Lincoln said...

I agree ranking journals is difficult, especially comparing more general magazines like Vice to straight literary magazines. For what it is worth, Salmagundi hasn't gained any pushcart points in the last four years and Sewanee has three.

To me your top 10 looks pretty crazy missing Tin House, McSweeney's, Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, which seem like easily five of the biggest lit mags out there.

But to each his own. These are all just starting points and as you say, subjective.

Lincoln said...

Thanks for the link though Cliff. I like your Pushcart Ranking a lot.

Clifford Garstang said...

No, Thank You! Lots of extra traffic around here the last couple of days.

Lincoln said...

Heh, no problem.

If I may, I've written a follow-up post with some thoughts that might interest anyone reading this.

Anonymous said...

Call me a horrible conformist, but I find it a bit odd that the New Yorker isn't anywhere on this list. I mean, sure, everyone loves to complain about the supposed decline in quality, but it's still one of the most widely-read literary magazines in America, isn't it?

Clifford Garstang said...

Which list? The New Yorker isn't on my Pushcart Prize list because it isn't considered for the Prize, since it isn't a small press. None of the "slicks" are--Harper's, Atlantic, TNY, etc.

Of course anyone would be thrilled to be published there. In my view, it's just in a different league.