May 1, 2014

The legendary Story Magazine lives again


Story Cover OutsideIn 1931, the husband-wife team of Whit Burnett and Martha Foley founded a literary magazine, and a legend was born. Publishing the likes of J. D. Salinger, Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, and Norman Mailer, and amassing dozens of O. Henry Awards, Story Magazine was the premiere publication for literary short fiction in its time.

The magazine folded in the sixties, but it didn’t stay down for good. Richard and Lois Rosenthal revived Story for another stint from 1989 to 2000, and—as if there had been no break at all—jumped into publishing short fiction from esteemed authors like Joyce Carol Oates, Junot Diaz, Amy Bloom, and our very own Dennis Johnson.

Now, once again, it’s back. This time Story Magazine has a home at York College of Pennsylvania, and I spoke with student editors Tracy Chopek and Ashli MacKenzie about what readers can expect from its latest incarnation.

“The magazine is not so much a revival as it is a magazine influenced by the original,” says MacKenzie. “The editors [Travis Kurowski and Vito Grippi] were much like other writers in the sense that the magazine had been an inspiration to them. Travis and Vito, when they were in the beginning stages of creating this idea of the magazine, thought of how there needed to be a magazine like Story.” So, they obtained the rights to the name from Lois Rosenthal herself, and got started on the first issue, debuting it in February of this year.

Longtime fans of the publication might be surprised, pleasantly of course, by what’s inside. “We fully intend to remake the magazine in our own vision,” says Chopek. “A big part of the original Story was that it was a diverse publication that brought attention to new, interesting writers or up and coming writers. And that is something we also hope to do with the new magazine. . . . Other than that everything else about our Story is different from the previous ones.”

The main difference will be in the “vastness of the content,” explains MacKenzie. “While the original had these great short stories, we have incorporated poems, comics, and other forms that push the boundaries of what defines a story. The original and what it stood for will always be an inspiration to us and the magazine as a whole, even if we are venturing out.”

Another difference is the presence of a theme for each issue. Although the first issue isn’t thematic (“It would have been weird to come out of the gates with something like that,” says MacKenzie), tentative themes have been chosen for all the issues coming out in the next 5 years. This includes Summer 2014, “The Monsters Issue,” and Winter 2015, “The Migration Issue.”

For the first issue, the editors solicited work from well-known authors—including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and K. Silem Mohammad, to name a few—but, now that the publication is off the ground, they’re taking submissions from anyone who would like a chance to be published.

This openness to content reflects the editors’ goal of bringing attention to new authors, as well as to a diverse range of stories. “I feel that our target audience is everyone and anyone,” says Chopek. “We are trying to bring more people from outside the literary magazine community in by just telling interesting stories and bringing in new approaches in writing.” Mackenzie confirms, “That’s part of what sets Story apart from other publications; it should appeal to those who already have a taste for literature while also introducing fantastic stories as well.”

Interested? You can purchase a subscription to Story Magazine here.