PDR Blog

Download PDR for Kindle

The latest issue of Printer’s Devil Review is now available for download for the Kindle reader from Amazon.com. You can also download it for the Nook at the Barnes & Noble site. We’re waiting for the folks at Apple to review it and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available from the iBookstore.

Get the New Issue of PDR

Printer's Devil Review, Fall 2011The Fall 2011 issue of Printer’s Devil Review is here and free to download from our site.

Our second issue features an interview with writer, filmmaker, and performing artist Miranda July, as well as work from emerging and established poets. Stories in this issue range from the big city to the backwoods–a lesbian private dick follows the trail of a killer into the sapphic underground of 1950s New York; a motherless girl in rural Appalachia sets her sights on the bookish neighbor boy. Also in this issue: Resa Blatman’s shaped canvases, teaming with color and critters; and dark, rhythmically illuminated photographs by Brandon James.

If you have a Nook reader, you can buy the ebook now (for $1) from the Barnes & Noble store. Look for the ebook edition soon in the Amazon Kindle store and Apple’s iBookstore. In the next few days, we’ll also be releasing a print-on-demand version to be sold at cost and distributed through Lulu.com.

Thanks for reading, and don’t be shy–comment on our site and our facebook page to let the editors and artists know what you think.

PDR Gets A New Look

PDR Style GuideAs my section editors have been working on selecting and editing new work for our second issue, I’ve been re-working the look and feel of the magazine. 

Probably the biggest change is document size: we’re moving from 8 1/2 X 11 inches to 6 X 9 inches, a standard format for literary journals.

Readers will still be able to print pieces from the magazine on letter paper (at a slightly adjusted scale), but will get two facing pages on each sheet. The 6 X 9 format also has a couple of advantages. I can now lay out two-page spreads instead of cramming everything onto a single page, for example; this will be a big help for the arts section, allowing me to accommodate larger images by allowing them to take up more than one page. The format is also the same dimensions as a trade paperback, so if we ever decide to make the magazine available in hardcopy or to print an anthology, everything is already laid out and ready for press.

We’ve also changed our body text font from ITC Galliard (a handsome font used by, among other publications, The New England Review) to Adobe Caslon Pro. The Caslon typeface is the same one used for body text in the New Yorker, and Adobe’s version of Caslon has more flexibility than our old font (true small caps, for example).  

We’ve also added a sans serif face to to the mix for captions and occasionally for headers. The magazine is both idealistic (non-commercial, open-access, and focused on emerging writers rather than established names) and forward-looking (embracing mobile technology by offering the content as an ebook). So what better typeface than Futura, a sans serif face based on geometrical shapes, representative of the aesthetics of the Bauhaus school of the 1920s-30s.

In his Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst states as his first principle that “typography exists to honor content.” Through our attention to things like picas, points, and proportions, we hope to honor the work of our contributors and enrich the experience of our readers. 

Resa Blatman

Paintings by Resa Blatman, Suffolk Art Gallery (2009)Lush, brooding landscapes of curlicues, spiderwebs, insects, and fruit, all digitally designed and painstakingly cut–this is the world of Resa Blatman, a featured artist in PDR’s upcoming issue. 

Blatman’s sixth solo show is now underway at Ellen Miller Gallery, 38 Newbury Street; her work will be on display through October 18. If you’re in the Boston area, you can catch the opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 3 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.ellenmillergallery.com.

Our Thanks

The editors would like to thank everyone who donated to or helped to spread the word about our fundraising campaign this summer. Although we didn’t reach our goal, we did raise enough to pay for six months worth of hosting on a fast, reliable server. Thanks again!

We would also like to thank everyone who submitted work for our upcoming issue. We’re a new magazine, and we know that for many it was a leap of faith to consider entrusting us with the results of days, weeks, or months of hard thinking, writing, and making. We’re happy to report that we’ve reviewed all the submissions and have made our final selections. We’ve attempted to reach everyone who submitted, but a few emails bounced back. Our apologies if you were one of those and didn’t hear from us.

Finally, we’d like to express our gratitude to our readers. Creative work needs a community to flourish: bright, inquisitive people who offer encouragement and appreciation as well as questions, comments, critiques, and challenges. Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll keep following PDR as we strive to bring you the voices and visions of emerging artists.

Genre Bender

New York at Night, 1955We normally shy away from genre fiction, but The Dying Nude, a novel-in-progress by Allan Converse, is something special.

A historian by profession, Converse carefully researched the lives of gay women in 1950s New York and produced a work that draws equally from the tradition of American crime fiction and the lesbian pulp novel. We’re excited to be featuring a selection from the manuscript in the Fall issue of PDR.

You can find an interview with Allan and hear him reading his work at the site for the Champs Not Chumps podcast. The page also features image galleries of 1950s New York and covers from crime and lesbian pulp novels. You’ll also find plenty of resources for learning more about burlesque, crime fiction, and other topics relevant to the novel.

Art & Science

Tom Dodson w/cell structure of hydrilla verticallata superimposedA few months back, the Axiom Center for New & Experimental Media invited me to participate in a reading series about the intersection of art and science. 

I read my story “Evidence of Harm,” which follows an attorney as he pursues his obsession with a troubled young woman and investigates an invasive plant species that is suffocating a New England lake. The story, concerned with trauma the limits of empirical explanation, seemed like a good fit for the series.

Axiom is planning to podcast a series of interviews with readers, and they just finished editing mine. You can follow the links below to hear what I have to say about art and science and to hear a scene from the story. By the way, I’d love to post the whole thing here or elsewhere, but I’m still holding out hope that it might be accepted for publication in a journal someday.

sound file icon Interview with Axiom

sound file icon Reading from “Evidence of Harm”

Art Wants To Be Free

Our second issue will be out in October, and although we won’t be releasing any previews of contributed work this time around, I’m posting the text of my editor’s note here. What do you think the purpose of art is or should be? You can comment on this post and tell us what you think.

Editor’s Note (PDR Vol. 1, Issue 2)

Kills Bugs Dead. This is probably the best slogan I have ever read. On its own, the phrase “kills bugs” is purely descriptive. It’s obvious and eminently forgettable. But that extra word at the end—its redundant, reassuring finality—that’s what let’s you know: with this insecticide there will be no half-measures. It is Ragnaroach; it is the bugpocalypse.

I’m told that the tagline was penned by Beat Generation poet Lew Welch while he was doing a stint as an adman in New York. The phrase is artful and effective, but is it poetry? Whatever our disagreements about the purpose of poetry in our culture, I think we can agree that selling pesticides is ancillary to that, something tacked on after the fact. Advertising is an activity that makes use of poetry for some purpose not intrinsic to the literary form.

On the other hand, defining art and its purpose is a risky business. It leads so easily to aesthetic prescriptions that stifle experimentation and condemn original work to either obscurity or derision. History shows us that, in authoritarian regimes at least, failure to adhere to the proper style of art-making can have grim consequences indeed. Still, shouldn’t we be able to say something about what art is for and what is foreign to it? 

We can look to ethics, already concerned with how things ought to be, for help thinking through the question of the proper approach to art. In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the philosopher Immanuel Kant suggests the following bedrock ethical principal: 

Now I say that the human being … exists as an end in itself, not merely as a means to be used by this or that will at its discretion; instead he must in all his actions, whether directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be regarded at the same time as an end.

Kant argues that we must treat every person we meet as an autonomous being, a consciousness with the capacity to think for itself, set its own goals, and make its own choices. 

If I disregard the interests of another person and exploit her solely as a means to some purpose I have in mind (personal profit, say, or sexual gratification), then I have a distorted relationship to that person.

We don’t have to agree on the precise purposes of art in order to adopt the principle that works of art, like individual human beings, exist as ends in themselves. If we grant that art has its own ends, independent from other dimensions of society (the economy, the state, etc.), then it follows that these ends should be respected.

In practical terms, this means affirming a difference between art that has been allowed the freedom to pursue its own ends and art that has been subordinated to some other purpose entirely. When art is used only to achieve some end external to it, when its autonomy is denied or disregarded, art is inevitably degraded. I’m not arguing for some fantasy of purity—art may pursue its own ends and still manage to sell something or support a political cause in the process. I believe, however, that we should be mindful that the primary purpose of art is probably not to produce profit for commercial publishing houses, to stimulate desire for commodities, or to advocate for a political ideology.

It is the purpose of this magazine to support art on its own terms. Some might even say we take this position to an extreme. Printer’s Devil Review refuses, for example, to subordinate art to the market and turn it into a commodity. We give the journal away for free and license the content in such a way as to facilitate its unrestricted circulation. 

I’m starting to think that we’ve been asking the wrong questions, or at least in the wrong order. What if we asked not “what is the proper function of art?” but rather “what does art want”? How about this for a slogan: Art Wants to Be Free.


Thomas Dodson

Amethyst Arsenic

Amethyst Arsenic

If you’re in the Boston area this Monday, August 22nd, come out and celebrate the latest addition to Beantown’s literary scene.  

The Amethyst Arsenic Poetry Journal will be hosting a release party on Monday, August 22nd, at 7 p.m., in the backroom of The Burren, in Davis Square.

There’s a $5-$10 cover (sliding scale), and the event will feature music from Kristen Ford (worth the price of admission on her own, if you ask me), Jade Sylvan, and The Whiskey Boys. Readers from the inaugural issue will include: Brandon Amico, Rusty Barnes, Gale Batchelder, Cassandra Clarke, Jim Cronin, Judson Evans, Laura Kiesel, Robin Linn, Valerie Loveland, Chad Parenteau, Charlie E. Rose, Christopher R. Vaughan.

There’ll be an open bar and the event kicks off with a meet & greet dinner (meat and vegetarian), followed by music and readings. Some of the editors from PDR will be there, so we hope you’ll say hello. You can also stay late for a screening of the cult classic Harold and Maude.

What If Emily Dickinson Was a Sex-Fiend?

Edward Porter’s story “Phil and Emily” explores this premise, imagining a liaison between the reclusive poet and the Union general Phillip Sheridan. As Porter explains in an interview with Bull City Press: 

“I hit on a fiendish device, and walked around for a couple of days giggling to myself, ‘Yeah, tell the truth but tell it slant.’ I take Ms. Dickinson’s advice as gospel: it’s her legend I’m poking fun at. I’ve always wanted to see her portrayed as a sex-fiend. Maybe I don’t trust anyone who isn’t manifestly a sex-fiend, and I’m trying to bring her down to my level.”

Porter’s work has appeared in Best New American Voices 2010, Colorado Review, Booth, and InchWe’re very happy to report that we’ll be featuring one of his stories in our Fall issue, due out in October.