I could have given him the usual: about how it was a river in Cambridge, or the upper part
of one, and its name spawned a student magazine that began in 1889 and was
revived in the late 1970s. I could have said that this magazine became home to
some of the best writing in the English language, and was edited for half its
life by a man, Bill Buford, described to me as 'a crazy, inspiring, absolutely
absurd lunatic'. But instead I said: 'It's a literary magazine, but it looks
like a book.'
spanking magazine. I went to the far corner, and there were several issues in
fair condition, at £2 each.
window. Was there ever a more deathly proposal? How could a magazine possibly
get to 100 issues with this as its starting point?
and here is number 17, with ruminations by Graham Greene.
Jonathan Schell. Next to it is Granta 12, dominated by Stanley Booth's account
of his high and terrible times with the Rolling Stones at Altamont. And then
there is a more recent one, number 80, with writers looking at old photographs
and remembering old friends, and Granta 65, with Hanif Kureishi and Ian Parker
writing knowingly and enticingly about London.
all the other boutique stars in the literary firmament with their fictions,
poetry, woodcuts, interviews and reviews? Consistency, surprise, self-belief,
originality and, thankfully, the complete absence of a dialogue about prose in
prose. But beyond that: Granta is almost always an exciting and rewarding and
illuminating thing to read. And beyond that: our world would be much the
poorer without it.
issue called The Theory of the Subject,' Bill Buford tells me when I speak to
him later. 'These were heady times.'
In truth, the first issue wasn't bad, with pieces from Joyce Carol Oates and Susan Sontag, and a superb foretaste of The Tunnel by William Gass. 'It was my way of discovering all
these writers I hadn't read yet,' Buford says (he is American, and his first
editorial wasted no time in dismissing all British writers in favour of his
compatriots). 'I wrote to them all, basically promising them a whole issue of
the magazine. My assumption was that no one would reply, and if anyone did I'd
do anything, because we had nothing."
scrambled for material, others took to the streets in search of advertising.
They got some: Woolworths, the Coffee Mill, Sweeney Todds restaurant, Laker
Skytrain, Transalpino. One advert, from the Arts Cinema, listed film times:
Picnic at Hanging Rock was playing on Sunday at 3pm.