Saturday, October 1, 2016

Exile, A (The) Literary Quarterly

I obtained, I do not remember when or how, Exile: A Literary Quarterly, vol 16, no 4, copyright 1992. Probably between 1994 and 1997 in NYC, where I obtained many books and literary journals for free or nearly free. I know I didn't pay anywhere near the price listed on the front cover, $25.00, neither 25 American nor Canadian dollars. Exile is published in Canada.

Like its price, Exile: A Literary Quarterly, vol 16, no 4 is huge for a literary Journal: over 500 large-format pages, around 8 1/2 by 11 inches, I'm guessing. The paper is thick, the volume weighs so much more than any other volume of a literary or scholarly journal I've ever hefted.

Is it also much, much bigger than any other volume of Exile, I'm wondering? I had never seen a different number of the publication, although I'd seen a few more copies of vol 16, no 4, until I bought a copy of Exile: The Literary Quarterly, vol 27, no 1, published in 2003 -- bought it via Amazon Marketplace a few years ago. The Amazon listing didn't say how many pages it had. Imagine my disappointment when it arrived, just over 140 smaller-format pages, about an inch less tall and an inch less wide than the big one from 1992.

The front cover of the one from 1992 has a photo of an Irish poet I'd never heard of, John Montague. Had he just passed away, was the 1992 number so much bigger because it was a tribute issue to Montague? No. He's also published in the 1998 issue, which mentions that he "became, in 1998, the first Ireland Professor of Poetry." He's still alive now at age 87.

Sometime between 1992 and 1998 they changed the A in the name of the quarterly to a the. But there's no doubt that it is the same publication. among the many hints are the identical quotations from Borduas ("Together we will undertake[...]") and Cortazar ("The only true exile[...]") at the beginning of each volume, and the identical editor, Barry Callaghan, replaced some time between 1992 and 1998 by his son Michael.

Maybe all of the earlier numbers are indeed like vol 16 no 4, which would be great, because it is awesome not only in size but also in the selection of authors and artists whose work is printed there: Atwood. Pasolini. William Kennedy. That Montague guy. Croatians, Swedes, Germans, many, many Canadians. On and on.

The prospect is too great. I can't believe it, it's too good to believe, that one number after the next was just as immense and impressive as that one, 4 times a year for years. Vol 16, no 4 must have been a special occasion, for some reason which I have not yet been able to discern.

I cannot find out for sure now by buying every number of Exile, A and The, currently for sale on Amazon. That is not within my current budget. If I win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature the week after next, I'll be able to buy them all -- but if I win the Nobel I probably won't have to buy any of them, because someone at Exile will read this, and, instead of helping someone who actually needs it, will send me every back issue for free, because of the Tom Petty Ab-So-Lute-Ly Backwards Law of Microeconomics. I suppose it's possible that some nearby university library has every issue of Exile.

Wait, maybe I have discerned why vol 16, no 4 is so splendacious and large: the publisher/editor/poet Barry Callaghan slips in an Afterword just before that long huge list of contributors, mentioning that his dad, Morley, had recently passed, and that "these books, these fifteen years in exile, are dedicated to him."

Hm. I'd read that Afterword before but somehow I never put the huge size and immense quality of this number together with the dedication of fifteen years' worth of the journal by Barry Callaghan to the memory of his Dad.

Now, after 20 years of wondering and having read the Afterward several times, now suddenly it seems obvious.

You see, I'm really not terribly bright. Please help me, someone.

In conclusion, France is a land of many contrasts, and literary journals are fun and mysterious and show how big and rich the world is. Not so much like most TV.

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