March 27, 2015
“Damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead”: O/R Books to relaunch Evergreen Review
by Taylor Sperry
Legendary countercultural quarterly Evergreen Review is due to be resurrected by O/R Books, the publisher announced yesterday.
Launched by the late Barney Rosset, the former publisher of Grove Press, in 1957, Evergreen Review published what the LA Times calls “a striking lineup of literary luminaries”: among them Sartre, Borges, Camus, Kerouac, Sontag, Genet, Brautigan, to name only a few. The magazine covered music, politics, art, and sex, and proved controversial enough that it was denounced on the floors of Congress and its offices were bombed. In an introduction to Evergreen Review Reader, Ken Jordan wrote:
Evergreen published writing that was literally counter to the culture, and if it was sexy, so much the better. In the context of the time, sex was politics, and the powers-that-be made the suppression of sexuality a political issue . . . Evergreen was more than a literary magazine. It was the voice of a movement that helped to change the attitudes and prejudices of the culture at large through the language of art–and succeeded. It was always damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.
O/R publisher John Oakes, who began his publishing career as Rosset’s assistant editor at Grove, tells Flavorwire “The [Review] itself will be an invigorated and essential website, with the traditional Evergreen focus on written culture (from games to poetry)–all with a distinctly progressive, even radical tinge.” They’ll also be digitizing the backlist and have plans to publish Rosset’s autobiography, The Subject Is Left Handed, in 2016.
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.