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failbetter.com – Fall/Winter 2008

There seems to be general agreement that one of the better online literary magazines today is failbetter.com. They get their name from the short poem by Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. / Ever failed. / No matter. / Try again. / Fail again. / Fail better.” – certainly a philosophy we could all fruitfully adopt. I am particularly impressed with the layout of this journal, where everything is easily accessible from the home page. The latest postings are found at the top, and scrolling down allows one to sample recent fiction, poetry, visuals, and interviews in a descending chronological order. The editors also appear to be rather selective in accepting new work: only six short stories are presented on the site from July 15 to November 4.

There seems to be general agreement that one of the better online literary magazines today is failbetter.com. They get their name from the short poem by Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. / Ever failed. / No matter. / Try again. / Fail again. / Fail better.” – certainly a philosophy we could all fruitfully adopt. I am particularly impressed with the layout of this journal, where everything is easily accessible from the home page. The latest postings are found at the top, and scrolling down allows one to sample recent fiction, poetry, visuals, and interviews in a descending chronological order. The editors also appear to be rather selective in accepting new work: only six short stories are presented on the site from July 15 to November 4.

Amy Anderson’s first published story, “Doors Closing,” is a sensitive depiction of a tall, somewhat self-conscious young woman’s enchantment with a male she meets at a party, who has just ended his long-term relationship. More ominous is Virginia Pye’s “Low Sounds by the Shore” concerning a man swimming confidently in the ocean, whose ruminations turn darker as he cramps up and realizes he may not make it back to land. The flashbacks here are quite skillfully integrated with the flow of the story. And there is “Matters of Breeding” by Douglas Light, a quick paced story about an international drug dealer (though this is not clear) caught up in the big money racket while trying to keep his floundering marriage together. We are entertained with obscure bits of trivia while the action swirls about. Also in these issues are a variety of poetry, some art (visuals), and two interviews with authors about their latest books.

Of interest to many of us who are observing the explosion of online literature, is an essay from one of the publishers, Andrew Day, entitled “Read Me,” in which he espouses the position that electronic publishing will facilitate the poet and short story writer by making their work more available, while novels and lengthy nonfiction will continue to be dependent on the print medium. Everyone seems to agree that we are developing more writers and fewer readers over time. How will we adjust?

Failbetter.com also has easily accessible archives dating back to October 1, 2000. It’s a well organized website, definitely one to check out.
[www.failbetter.com]

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