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On Spec – Winter 2003

This little journal is subheaded “The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic,” and the absolute best praise I can give is that I’m vehemently not a fantasy reader, but pretty much every story I opened to in the magazine kept me reading all the way through.

This little journal is subheaded “The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic,” and the absolute best praise I can give is that I’m vehemently not a fantasy reader, but pretty much every story I opened to in the magazine kept me reading all the way through. On Spec maybe should be required reading for all literary writers who, as Michael Chabon wrote last year (in the intro for McSweeneys 11), like to finish their stories and leave them “glistening with epiphanic dew.” There are no Updike or Carver or Munro stories within On Spec: plot alone would take any of those guys out of the running in the first paragraph. What we have instead of quiet, earnest stories are stories about people who send themselves through the London mail, racing each other the whole way; two terrifying short shorts by a woman named Catherine MacLeod; a story about the world after oxygen is gone. Another thing: you will find no boringly named characters in this journal. The journal’s heavily tilted toward prose (a single poem), and I don’t know how much sense it makes to talk about the feel of a literary magazine, or what feel it may evoke in a reader, but for all its craziness and whim and fantasy, this journal made me believe, again, and made me glad to believe: anything that pushes the boundaries that far out and away seems, to me, always worth it. [On Spec, P.O. Box 4727, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6E 5G6. Single issue $5.95. http://www.onspec.ca/] – WC

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