Ben Yarling, American Chordata
Today we’re in New York, browsing through the magazines of American Chordata editor Ben Yarling. The new issue of our favourite young literary title has recently hit the shelves, so we thought it a perfect time to have a chat with Ben about the publications that informed him.
As ever, we asked Ben to select three magazines for us: an old issue, a new one and another thing.
An old issue: Cabinet, #30: The Underground, Summer 2008.
Cabinet is the magazine that made me love magazines. Pulling this issue off the shelf and flipping back through it is a crazy experience. Its influence on my creative and intellectual trajectory is more pronounced than I even realised. I took this 2008 issue with me when I spent a semester in the Netherlands in college. Carried it around with me all over Europe, read and re-read it, more-or-less knew each article by heart by the end. Just looking at it triggers a flood of memories, like when a song you used to love but haven’t heard in a decade randomly comes on in a department store. I still read Cabinet a lot, and it’s always humbling. A reliably good way to knock myself down a couple notches when I start thinking I’m clever.
A new issue: Lucky Peach, #22 (Chicken), Spring 2017.
I’m still grieving over the recent announcement that Lucky Peach is closing shop. Peter Meehan and his team are inspirations in the extreme. This most recent issue, like those that have preceded it, is smart, fun, informative, graphically charming, and appetizingly helpful from end to end. LP has established a visual language entirely its own, immediately recognizable when you see it. But it still manages to surprise and delights in 10 different ways every issue. It makes me want to cook and call old friends and watch less television. I love to read this magazine, and it will be sorely missed. Thank goodness we still have Put a Egg On It!.
And another thing: Excerpt from “Interview with George Saunders”, The White Review, #17, Summer 2016.
These words from the ever-brilliant George Saunders on the ethics and infrastructure of fiction and art have stayed with me. I’ve returned to them a lot lately, particularly in considering how we might best embody an ethical viewpoint in our next issue. George was also one of the first people to respond when we sent out American Chordata's very first call for submissions in late 2014, back when our website and enthusiasm and a “submit your work” flier were our only forms of existence. So I’m endeared to him for all time. Everybody go read Lincoln in the Bardo!