Letter from the Editor


Dear Reader,

Hello, and welcome to Issue Twenty-Seven!

Recently, I was asked by the good people of Atticus Books to participate in a panel convened to discuss MFA programs, the recent Poets & Writers rankings, and the effect of creative writing education on literature. As the panel concluded, we were asked this final question:

Where is contemporary fiction headed? With the introduction of electronic readers, the addition of e-books to The New York Times bestseller lists, and Amazon’s decision to step into publishing (physical books, no less), the publishing world has undergone some dramatic shifts in the past few years. Where do you see this trend, as it pertains to readers of books and the writers who write them, taking us?

To which I answered (in part):

I wish more writers spent half as much time thinking about where writing might go, instead of just publishing... And that’s a shame, because the true future of literature doesn’t belong to the person who can do the most with the e-book. Instead, as always, it belongs only to those who can make new and necessary magic with word and sentence and story. I can’t wait to read their books, regardless of what mediums they’re delivered by.

I've found myself thinking about this often in the weeks since, as every day I notice how many more words are written about publishing as an industry instead of writing as an art or reading as an experience, and I'm increasingly tired by the imbalance. To help address this, I'd like to extend an opportunity for others to help balance the conversation by speaking to our readers: If you would like to write a guest post or even a more formal essay about what the future of writing might holda positive vision for the art itself, not (or not only) the publishing side—then I'd love to read it and consider it for publication either on our blog (in the form of a guest post) or possibly in the magazine proper: If we get enough good work in the next few weeks, perhaps we'll put together a special section in the December or January issues.

As I hope is obvious by this point, I personally believe we're in an exciting time for literature, one in which the writing and reading experiences available to use are likely to continue to grow even stronger and more varied, especially if we can find ways to combat the culture of negativity that seems to increasingly surround us, as well as our preoccupation with the changing medium it's delivered by. The Collagist is founded on, more than anything else, our desire as editors to support some of the great new work that is being done all around us, and so I think that if you'd like to speak up for your vision for where the art of writing is heading, then I'd like The Collagist to try and give you a place from which to speak. Send me an email at and let's talk.

In Issue Twenty-Seven, we have new fiction from Kate Lorenz, Luke Geddes, and Lincoln Michel, as well as returning contributor Joseph Scapellato. Our excerpts this month come from Blake Butler's "memoir of insomnia" Nothing, the novels Damascus by Joshua Mohr and Fires by Nick Antosca, and the winner of the 2010 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize, Gretchen E. Henderson's innovative Galerie de Difformité.

This month's poetry includes new work by Chiyuma Elliott, Tomás Q. Morín, Louisa Diodato, and Brittany Cavallaro, and our non-fiction comes in the form of three "short memoirs" by Gregory Sherl.

Book reviews this month include reviews of The Book of Freaks by Jamie Iredell (reviewed by Tom DeBeauchamp), A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed by J.A. Tyler (reviewed by Nick Francis Potter), There is Something Inside, It Wants to Get Out by Madeline McDonnell (reviewed by Art Edwards), Life on Sandpaper by Yoram Kaniuk (reviewed by Nathan Huffstutter), and The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (reviewed by Anna Clark).

Thanks to all of our contributors for letting us publish their fine work, and thanks to all our readers for coming back every month. I hope you enjoy the writing in this issue as much as I do.


Matt Bell
The Collagist

P.S. The Collagist is also looking for one or two new blog editors who would be interested in (at the very least) interviewing our contributors for the blog. If you're interested, send a cover letter to We look forward to hearing from you!