I love literary quarterlies. I mean, I just think they're swell - Black Clock, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Tin House, Glimmer Train, A Public Space. I love the care and passion that these editors and publishers put into their little magazines, working from tiny budgets with shoestring staffs. I remember when I interviewed George Plimpton a few years ago in his apartment, I was stunned to see that The Paris Review at the time was produced from his cramped, low-ceilinged basement. It looked fit for a college yearbook, let alone the most important quarterly of the past half-century.
I love that both established authors and great soon-to-be-knowns contribute. I love that these magazines insist that our time is worth theirs. Despite the fact that the quarterly audience presumably reads the paper everyday, grazes the alt-weeklies, tries to trudge through The New Yorker on a semi-weekly basis, and also keeps up a steady book-reading habit, the quarterlies tells us, no, it's not enough, and now is the time to read tens of thousands more words that will enrich your day, week, life. Subscribing to a literary quarterly is like putting a fixed-rate mortgage down on your future reading time - you might not get to it for a while, but when you do, it'll pay itself off many times over.