Conjunctions:37 Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Not four, but a score. Little magazines are not supposed to last that long. They are the mayflies of periodicals. Nowadays, a lot of them do last because the universities they are attached to endure—the buildings cost too much to tear down. There, in quiet quads, they crawl up academic walls like vines of ivy. Conjunctions, however, was never little. It was born twins, one of whom was bound and came out like a book. Littles are never clothed. Its initial issue was a Festschrift for James Laughlin, a genre that’s generally a book. Nor was it small, running for 312 pages, longer than a Coppola film. Nor did it shrink as time went on. Number 34’s contributor page begins on page 478. Littles usually start out well only to weaken before they fade away entirely. Conjunctions is now a Samson with hair to its knees, because it has continuously enlarged its scope—one that was never narrow—to include important work from overseas, and to reflect on the literature that has been made as well as to herald the literature that will be. Littles have pals and publish them, but only too often their ambitions are only dreams. Conjunctions has maintained a standard of quality that, in my opinion, is unmatched by either Bigs or Littles, while remaining catholic in its sense of what counts. Like the Littles, however (and the reason why the magazine has prospered), Conjunctions has had one greatly gifted and energetic editor throughout its lifetime. We, who contribute, are grateful that it’s Brad Morrow’s magazine, and we feel honored by the others with whom he has conjoined us. 
     The quality is there, spread over the pages of every issue, for anyone to read: youthful voices and hoarse ones like mine, literally conveyed from the lands of the unlikely, manuscripts rescued from some purgatorial past, real writers recognized and fished out of the stream. Maybe many of us feel as I do that with Conjunctions Brad has built for serious writers a raft where we can thirst and cling and curse like survivors from the shipwreck of our culture. He has enlisted the help of good people; he has begged if not on the street in many an office or at tavern tables; he has read his eyes out; he has kept his ear to the alphabet, and has scrounged strange stuff from salvation’s army that’s nevertheless fit to dress a prince proudly; he has taken enough time away from his own writing to shame all of us who are less generous; he has had to suffer the slings of injured egos and the arrows of envious and carpy critics; and he has never ducked an issue or sacrificed a principle. Nothing Little in sight. I have never cottoned to close games. Personally, I like blowouts best, and Brad has run up a big score.
—William H. Gass
October 2001
St. Louis

William H. Gass is the author of Life Sentences and Middle C (both Knopf).