It did not take me long to renew my Overland Literary Journal subscription. The quality of the journal and its frequently courageous stance on issues meant that it had all ticks from me. The calibre of fiction is also impressive: Christos Tsiolkas, Patrick White, Margo Lanagan, Peter Carey, Thea Astley and Charlotte Wood are just a few names that come to me off the top of my head. Then add the artwork of Shaun Tan in #202 and you've covered almost everything.
Overland Literary Journal is not just for the left, and lets face it, many writers are left leaning, but it is also for lovers of literature. Its pages contain the finest Australian writing and we are fortunate to have it. Moreover, Overland slaves away to inform readers with its online presence: as of last count it had 3,915 friends on facebook, which is a credit to the way it has tackled the electronic age. The twitters (or tweets?), links and blog posts, are frequent and informative, and I for one, have benefited from them.
And that is the dilemna for this independent journal. They are doing so much that we can access for free. So why then buy? It was at the Perth Writers Festival, where I heard Margo Lanagan state that when in doubt go for threes. So I'll give you three reasons:
- Tactility: Personally, I am still enthralled by the tactile feel of a fictional story but outside of fic, I am quite content reading away online. So, due to the fiction, usually three stories per issue, which makes 12 fictional pieces a year - it suits me to have it in the hand.
- Supporting a Great Service: Overland provides us with updates on facebook and its website. These are informative, captivating, frequent and free. I go to the local independent bookstore and buy books to support them because I want to keep them around. It is the same with Overland - yes, it is arguably our most subscribed to literary journal but if we want to keep them going in our modern 'capitalist-takes-all- age' then we have to show them the money. Pay them for the service they provide (ironically, this point probably goes against the very pillars the journal stands for).
- Ubiquity: I acknowledge that this point is awfully askew regarding a subscriberthon - it's more of a plug for buying it from a bookstore. But personally, I think Overland needs to be seen. It does garner fans from lovers of good writing who discover it on the web but it needs to maintain (and expand) its place in bookstores and the better newsagencies. This way it might meet new fans who appreciate literature. The physical presence of the journal is as important as its innovative electronic one.
There are a myriad of other reasons too. I'll give you three more quick ones - I wonder whether I am cheating, Margo? Sixing it up and all: it looks great on my coffee table; it opens up discussion; and lastly, as mentioned earlier, Overland is of the highest quality.
So I have renewed my subscription, and I say that if you are a friend of Overland Literary Journal, then you should too. Dictatorial of me, I know.
And now for the other journal in the deal. It was difficult but I thought I'd try Meanjin this time, which just pipped Griffith Review and Wet Ink. Griffith Review is an eminent journal but it does not tackle genre or speculative fiction, which rules out some wonderful literature. I'll continue to buy the occasional Griffith Review from Planet Books, for the simple reason that it deserves to be read. With regards to Wet Ink, I like the fact that it seems to push emerging talent and is open a wide genre playing field, but I went with Meanjin this time as I've enjoyed the last few lent to me from friends. In the future I'd like to add Griffith Review to my subscription list (as well as a few others too).
The before mentioned journals, and others like them, require us to help them. Writers need to find suitable homes of worth; readers need to be kept informed and enjoy great writing. We have some fantastic journals, my personal favourite, however - and I have a harem of beloved journals - is Overland. They also pay their writers at generous professional rates, which is a rarity in the modern era. So subscribe and send some love their way in return. Sometimes your relationship with Overland will be volatile and at other times passionate but it will never be anything less than stimulating.