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What We’re Reading: Revolver, Print Edition Two

2013 November 7
by Wren

What We're ReadingrevolverRevolver (Print Edition Two)

Revolver is a young arts and cultural publication (online and print) out of the Twin Cities that has been garnering a lot of buzz for their unique editorial model, one-of-a-kind events, and catchy tagline (“Rowdy Reading”). One of the most interesting components of the publication is how many editorial voices there are on staff (nine in this case). This could mean catastrophe, but these voices are contained in a lean, muscly approach to editing and publication. All of them seem to care equally about excellent, smart writing (whatever genre) and agree to leave the work alone to speak for itself.

This sentiment of leaving the work alone alone is immediately clear in the magazine’s second print edition, out now. In fact, the  edition starts with a quote from Annie Dillard: “An honest work generates its own power.” This is true of Revolver‘s efforts. Trim in size, this has the breadth of an exquisite sampler of some of the best up-and-coming contemporary literature. There is a definite emphasis on Minnesotans with names like Sun Yun Shin, Matt Mauch, Lara Avery, and John Jodzio peering up at us from the table of contents, as well as photos from Revolver‘s local experimental event from this last summer, DESK. (A little background: DESK was an event where a handful of local artists and writers had shifts with a desk to do with it whatever they wanted. Some extreme transformations happened, which is what is pictured in this section. However, as someone who went to DESK, I wonder for someone who didn’t know what DESK was, if those photos would’ve made enough sense out of context for it to work.)

Thanks to the edition’s unusual size, it slips easily and casually into a pocket or purse, and was a subtle little companion that I fully enjoyed reading on the bus, while waiting for friends at restaurants, or in my cozy armchair at home—it’s something I could bring with me everywhere and jump in for a short, immersive story, poem, or essay. The edition’s very minimalist design and art direction allows the work speak for itself. This is one of the other ways Revolver departs from well-known literary magazines, locally and otherwise. There isn’t the flashy design of Paper Darts, nor the extreme slant towards edgy like Whole Beast Rag (although there definitely is some edgier work in this edition). That’s not to say those magazines are any less fantastic; rather, it’s just that in a literary ecosystem that is extremely saturated with literary magazines, Revolver holds its own as something different.

Known for their unusual events, Revolver surprises again: for this edition’s launch party this month, there are no gimicks, nothing to shock: just come and have a drink with the staff. Again, they are sticking to their guns with letting good work and good company speak for itself.

What other magazines leave the content alone to speak for itself? Are there other unique editorial models for literary magazines that are particularly effective and/or interesting?


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