Editors Joe Hiland and Michael Mlekoday recently distinguished work they would consider publishing in Indiana Review from work that just isn’t quite right for them. Rarely does an editorial staff pull back the green curtain and show us the Wizard’s working pieces, so to speak. In an effort to offer transparency to our submitters, my intention for this blog post is to be a little more honest about our reading tastes here at the minnesota review. Let it be known: We’re looking for some very specific submissions in our next reading period, to begin on January 1. Rather than warn you how to stay out of the rejection pile, I’ll do you one better and tell you exactly what it takes to get your work published in our magazine.
the minnesota review staff would like to see:
Ahistorical chupacabra fiction: To be fair, we saw quite a bit of this early in the current reading period. But these particular ahistorical chupacabra pieces were missing…something. That certain chupacabra duende. Which isn’t to say we weren’t thrilled with the quality of your submissions, because we were. Alice Munro sent us a piece that nearly made the final round of voting, but ultimately we editors sensed a severe lack of well-rounded chupacabras in the story with which the audience could sympathize. As my grandfather always told me and his grandfather told him, One complex chupacabra is simply not enough in sustaining emotional resonance throughout the entirety of a narrative arc. Think of the minnesota review as a chupacabra-friendly market from now on. Amaze us with your chupacabravado. We’re also on call 24/7 to answer any chupacabra or chupacabra-related inquiries from our Twitter and Facebook accounts, so please do avail yourself of our collective expertise.
Direct address from the narrator to the reader: Is there a reason so few of you make space in your submissions to give an explicit shout-out to the editors and genre readers of the minnesota review, specifically me, Nathan Blake, saying something flattering about my choice secondary sexual characteristics?
Take for example the following excerpt from a recent submission that found success elsewhere (it was scooped up by Esquire)–
Mona parked her Honda beside the bridge abutment overlooking the Potomac River, roiling with crests like grabbing hands in the storm’s current. She unwrinkled a tattered and washed-out Polaroid from her hip pocket, a ritual she had practiced already fifteen or twenty times before even stopping to eat. The photograph seemed to hum with fluorescent light between her fingertips. Here was a man flexing his corded arms as he brought an axe to, and presumably–in a single fluid arc, no doubt–through, a felled tree. Nathan Blake, fiction reader, she whispered softly at the photograph, stroking gently with her upper lip the man’s formidable, not-weird sideburns. Mona’s life’s love, this Nathan Blake, fiction reader. Mona’s answered prayer.
Come correct, dear submitters. Show me some love. While I technically can’t guarantee you publication for your endeavors, I can guarantee you some serious consideration for BFF Status, for which there is only a handful of people in the queue (I’m looking at you, Ashton Kutcher & Charles Barkley…).
Submissions that are just Instagrams of thesaurus pages: We think this could work, depending on the thesaurus.
Two or more characters with the same name in the same story: Have you ever noticed there are really only like fifteen names? I have. At Friendly’s every night I meet probably five different people named Emily or John. And don’t you think these eponymic coincidences would occur more often in contemporary fiction, if much contemporary fiction indeed serves a mimetic function? That’s why I’ve decided to name both main characters in my forthcoming novel “Hambone.”
Here’s an excerpt from Hambone & Hambone, which drives at the heart of what we’re looking for in fiction submissions–
“Hambone, bring that old box of photographs in here for me to look at,” called Hambone to Hambone, who was deboning a ham in the kitchen before Wednesday supper. “I’d like to see that one of Nathan Blake, fiction reader, again. He’s got some serious skills in terms of looking great and smelling like, absolutely masculine. If someone thinks he smells bad, like hot garbage, perhaps, on the downtown bus, and lets him know that that’s what he smells like, hot garbage on the downtown bus, loud enough for the whole bus to hear and smirk at him for, then that person is probably jealous of Nathan Blake, fiction reader, of his formidable/not-weird sideburns, and maybe that person even has a defective freaking nose, maybe that nose smells the opposite of things as they are in reality, has that explanation even crossed your brainwave?”
“I know what you mean. I keep his portrait on my bedside,” said Hambone, “for it is the stuff dreams are shaped of.”
“I agree, Hambone,” said Hambone. “The most pleasant dreams.”
“I also agree, Hambone,” Hambone agreed.
Are you taking notes? I have seen the future of letters in this world, and it is Hambone & Hambone, forthcoming in a Highlights Magazine exclusive serialization.
Poems featuring roses: Duh, roses are very, very poetic. That is Heartstuff 101. Help yourself out by including one (or, to err on the side of caution, twelve) to raise the emotional stakes in your poem. We at the minnesota review like our poetry like we like our coffee–botanical in scope, ripe with tears.
Nathan Blake was chosen as Time’s Person of the Year in 2006.