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AGNI - Number 61

  • Image: Image
  • Issue Number: Number 61
  • Published Date: 2005
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Perhaps the best editors are prescient, equipped with a literary sixth sense that allows them to provide readers with apt reflections at the right moment. So it was that I found myself clipping an article on the necessity of craft in memoir (as opposed to mere emotional regurgitation) by the current editor of AGNI, Sven Birkerts, out of a recent issue of Poets & Writers even as I was reading it, so exactly did it articulate thoughts I’d been having. A similar sensation attended my reading of an essay by AGNI’s founding editor, Askold Melnyczuk, in the current issue of the magazine. Seventy pages earlier, I’d been reading Ben Miller’s “Romancing the Dankerts” and reflecting on what it was about his prose that made it dense and stunningly lyric, lush in a way that made me want to taste it (and all this in piece ostensibly about trash and trashy neighbors who object to the trash!). And then there was Melnyczuk, ruminating on the same question: “I’m curious about why certain sentences read quickly, why others force us to slow down...” and quoting Susan Sontag: “Every style is a means of insisting on something.” I must insist that editors of this ilk are the reason AGNI consistently dazzles. Volume 61 is no different; I starred so many pieces as worth mentioning that I can’t mention them all. Birkerts may begin this issue by lamenting that with Sontag’s death, he lost his “ideal reader,” the person he felt he was editing for, even if she’d never seen a copy of the magazine, but I have a feeling that even without her guiding presence, AGNI will continue to deliver what readers are looking for–even if they don’t know it yet. []

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Review Posted on June 30, 2005

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