In search of literary magazines, something bugged me yesterday, and I HAVE to tell you about it. Let me start by saying, that I’m not that easily offended…usually. Come on, everyone has things that bug them! I tend to have knee-jerk reactions to some things, and then come back from them pretty quickly to see the bigger picture or someone else’s point of view. Even now, after this issue I’m about to report caused me to squint my eyes and think, “What the…?” I’m considering how I could have misinterpreted what I saw. And to be totally honest, it looks as if it were an oversight, one that could easily be resolved.

What got me so hot and bothered? What made me get back in my truck and text three different people the news? Do hear Clopin again?

literary magazines
Hush! And Clopin will tell you!

Yesterday, I was between friend visits. That sounds so funny. I went down into the city to have breakfast with one friend before he went to work, and then waited for another friend to get off from work so I could have dinner with her before I came back home.

What to do in between those times? THAT is the question. Go shopping, of course!

First, I stopped at Target for some essentials. We don’t have that store in my town, only a very crappy version of Walmart. I’m not opening a Walmart trash session. I love the place in other towns. It has always been one of my favorite stops when we are traveling with our trailer, but in California…I’m not sure what the deal is. But I digress!

Then I decided to get a cup of coffee and a delicious snack at Panera. I brought the book I just finished and my journal so I could sit there and read and write some notes, maybe plot out a blog post while I relaxed indoors. Ok, yes, it made me feel like one of the cool kids. I love seeing those people working on their laptops and tablets in coffee shops. I want to be them! But I don’t live in the city, so I have my quiet little porch, all the coffee I can drink, and pastries I make myself, so I don’t need a coffee shop.

But I still felt cool.

That’s when I realized I was right across the street from Barnes & Noble and I remember seeing a magazine rack there. Maybe I could browse through them and find something interesting to take home. I love magazines for short stories and articles far more than the internet. They are curated, printed, and (the best part) no comments!

When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a man thumbing through a book he had just bought, right in the middle of the road. We’ve all been there, right? You see it on the shelf, have to have it, make your purchase, and then crack it open as you walk to your car, only to be sucked into the smell, the words, the feel of it in your hands.

I smiled at him. He smiled at me. The connection. Hot.

Walking inside, I went straight to the magazine section at the front of the store. Where would I find literary magazines? Hmm…

I found them at the bottom of the section labeled “Men’s Interests.”

I knelt down to get a closer look shaking my head. I picked through them, finding one I used to subscribe to, Creative Nonfiction, along with a couple new ones, Oh Reader and American Short Fiction. Then I took a step back and looked at the display again. Maybe I was reading it wrong.

The shelf was labeled “Literary Magazines,” so maybe it was just thrown in at the bottom like this because it was only one shelf? But other shelves were labeled there as well, “Sports,” “Health,” and “Outdoors.” Over the top of the display was a different sign for “Men’s Interests.”

I’m not liking this. I think it’s bizarre that the two labels are even there, men’s and women’s interests. Why not just a shelf for sports, fashion, business, or writing and reading? It feels like a vestige from the past, a tail or gills in utero that has evolved away.

“Did you make a scene?” is the first thing my husband asked when I told him. No, that’s not like me. I’m too shy. I may have…if I were with friends or drinking. That’s funny: drunk bookstore shopping. Who’s in?!

And later, while telling my friend the story, I thought I should have asked where the literary magazines are and when they told me I could have made a face or some comment about how bizarre it was, especially since most of the names I see in those magazine look like female names.

Now I’m sitting here wondering if I should say something the next time I’m in there buying magazines. It’s a simple fix. There are several rows and sections of magazines, business, current affairs, food, etc. Why not get rid of men’s and women’s and just put fashion with fashion and sports with sports?

Am I being crazy here?

literary magazines

Oh, before I go. I swore I would only buy a couple magazines to check out and…maybe just walk around the store, browse the poetry section…and then I found this:

How to Live, What to Do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature by Josh Cohen

How can I possibly pass that up!?