On the eve of the publication of its 16th issue next week, speculation is brewing over whether the West Coast literary magazine Black Clock will remain at the California Institute of the Arts, the journal’s original publisher, or move elsewhere. Other institutions have been eying Black Clock since its debut 10 years ago when almost instantly it became one of the country’s most celebrated and coveted literary platforms, with a stellar mix of writers new and acclaimed such as Don DeLillo, Jonathan Lethem, Joanna Scott, Brian Evenson, Lynne Tillman, Mark Z. Danielewski, Shelley Jackson, David Foster Wallace and Rick Moody, whose chronicle of the 2012 election appears in the new issue along with work by Henry Bean and Craig Clevenger. Two National Book Award-winning novels - Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker and William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central - first appeared in Black Clock in excerpt form, and in two weeks (February 10) the magazine will be feted by the Getty Center and the Downtown Library Foundation’s Young Literati, with readings by Aimee Bender, Geoff Nicholson, Susan Straight and David L. Ulin.
While the magazine’s influence is greater than its circulation, it still seems crazy CalArts would let anyone else snap up such an enterprise, especially given the prominence Black Clock brings to the institute’s MFA Writing Program; nearly a third of the program’s students work on Black Clock with more than a dozen alumni such as Grace Krilanovich (The Orange Eats Creeps) first published in its pages before going onto national attention. Maybe this is all just the usual palace intrigue, real or imaginary, that goes with any sort of high-level personnel changes such as those that CalArts reportedly has undergone this past year. Time will tell. For the moment no one associated with the magazine or in the writing program (including Black Clock editor and novelist Steve Erickson and managing editor Bruce Bauman, who both teach at CalArts) is commenting.
- Matthew Specktor, Senior Editor at Large, The Los Angeles Review of Books