Dr. Christopher Linforth is the author of three story collections, The Distortions (Orison Books, 2021), winner of the 2020 Orison Books Fiction Prize, Directory (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2020), and When You Find Us We Will Be Gone (Lamar University Press, 2014).

I dabble in poetry on the odd occasion, trying to create form and meaning in a new way. My usual output in this genre is around 3-4 poems a year. Pretty meager by anyone’s standards. I do wish to talk about the lyric essay (nonfiction/poetry hybrid) in an upcoming post, but for now a call-out to 491 Magazine who have selected my poem “The Death Chant of Fox News” for publication.

In my previous post I covered online journals, in this one I want to turn to print-based literary journals.

The following discussion will disregard magazines like The New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, Harper’s, and The Atlantic, as these are transnational and commercial magazines with high circulations. Instead, I will examine journals that often have a circulation of a couple of thousand and are non or low profit. My personal criteria, which of course is subjective, included prestige, time-in-operation, inclusion in the Best American series, Pushcarts, and the calibre and accomplishments of the writers included within their pages.

The Top Ten

1. The Paris Review

2. Ploughshares


4. Virginia Quarterly Review

5. Georgia Review

6. Sewanee Review

7. One Story

8. Prairie Schooner

9. Fiction

10. Crazyhorse

Other fine journals that just missed out on the top ten include Glimmer TrainTin House, Five Points, American Short Fiction, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, A Public Space, North American Review, and The Kenyon Review.

Small Journals

These five journals I rate highly in terms of the writing and the breath of content and style on display.

1. Mid-American Review

2. Cimarron Review

3. Florida Review

4. Beloit Fiction Journal

5. Ninth Letter

Student-Only Journals

Lastly, to even out the playing field, I have a few journals that accept students’ work only.

1. Susquehanna Review (UG)

2. Touchstone (UG/G)

3. Red Clay Review (G)

4. Zaum (UG/G)

5. Prairie Margins (UG)

6. Outrageous Fortune (UG)

7. Aubade (students and the community)

Note: ex-student journals now open to everyone include: Penguin Review, Emerson Review, and Eclipse. Also, the Southampton Review seems to accept “mostly” student work.

I referred in my previous post to online literary journals. Now, I’m not entirely savvy yet with all of them and how they are perceived and ranked. Therefore, the following is just a brief list of some. Please feel free to add others in the comments section.


AGNI online


The New River

Narrative Magazine

Evergreen Review


Word Riot

Kenyon Review Online





The Summerset Review


Mississippi Review

In my deluded state-of-mind, the career plan I would like to follow is this: fill a bookshelf of my own work (literary journals, magazines, etc.) before submitting to online publications. Now, both print and online places have their own strengths and weaknesses:

Print — durable and prestigious medium, yet low circulation figures (often around 1,000 or less).

Online — generally less prestigious and liable to disappear, yet views can be hundreds if not thousands per year.


Other factors to consider are these:

Literary agents subscribe to the top print journals (One Story, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, etc.) in hopes of finding new talent. Indeed, in the last few years several dozen authors have got book deals in that way. For example, Miroslav Penkov, a young author who published “Buying Lenin” in The Southern Review — and later reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 2008 — was found by a top agent.

The availability of online journals, especially good ones like Blackbird, are also a resource for agents. Therefore if one is to go this route, I would suggest sending them your best work (although this might sometimes seem like a waste) as many online journals will be around for a long time and will contain your story even years down the line when an agent or fan Googles your name.

For me personally, I’m sticking to print for the time being. I love the tactile feel of a book or magazine, the smell of the paper and the portability the medium affords. Although, as a society, we’re now past online publications being meaningless (“Anybody can set a website up!”), they’re still only a secondary choice for me at the current time. Once I have a book, though, I think an online presence, and a mention of its title and publisher in the contributor bio., might generate further interest and perhaps a sale or two.

Well first I’m going to have to finish my novel before I ever try to enact my marketing strategies!

Note: I am sending some scholarly work to some online academic journals. That topic, though, will be covered in another post.

I thought it would be vaguely interesting to sift through the books I’ve read over the last months. Apart from the following, I’ve also read countless short stories and essays for class, in journals, journal submissions, and comp papers.

Lolita. Vladamir Nabokov.

Time Will Darken It. William Maxwell.

So Long, See You Tomorrow. William Maxwell.

Silver Thaw and Selected Stories. Ron Johnson.

Morpho Eugenia. A.S. Byatt.

Possession: A Romance. A.S. Byatt.

The Story and its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters.

In Cold Blood. Truman Capote.

Aspects of the Novel. E.M. Forster.

The Fourth Genre. Eds. Robert Root et al.

To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf.

One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The Blindfold. Siri Hustvedt.

The Original of Laura. Vladimir Nabokov.

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead. Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides.

Burning Down the House. Charles Baxter.

Best American Short Stories 2008. Ed. Salman Rushdie.

Last week I read Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse. The remarkable thing about this book was the prose style: stream-of-consciousness and third person omniscient. Often passages of text were beautifully written and lucid; yet as the point of view switched from character to character I often found myself wondering whose mind I was in, and I had to retrace my steps to see if I was now with Mrs. Ramsey or Lily Briscoe and so forth.

The novel’s structure has three sections, the first “The Window,” the second “Time Passes,” and the third, “The Lighthouse,” and was also part of Woolf’s artistic style of matching form, content, and prose technique. The first and last sections are two days ten years apart (but located in the same place on the Isle of Skye), with the middle section a strange, and experimental, component  that Woolf described as comparable as the bar in a H. In this part of the novel inanimate objects (e.g. the house) and consciousness-free entities (e.g. the wind) contain a sentience, a human-like emotion as nature slowly destroys the house (interior and exterior) and overruns the garden. This is something John Ruskin with his notion of the Pathetic Fallacy (his contention that writers giving inanimate objects human emotions is the product of an unhinged mind, driven by violent emotion) would have abhorred.  For me, Woolf, for the most part, pulls off this narrative trick. Mainly, I think because of the singleness of vision and the manner in which she juxtapositions the deaths of Mrs. Ramsey, Prue Ramsey, and Andrew Ramsey in parenthetical asides.

A couple of years ago a journal that will remain nameless accepted my book review of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. For some reason — one never explained — it was not published. A few months ago I revised and polished the review and sent it to Aunt Chloe: A Journal of Candor, based at Spelman College in Atlanta.  Anyway to move matters on: today the journal accepted the book review for publication.