Swank Swink

The first issue of Swink arrived in my mailbox today, apparently ahead of the issue’s debut in bookstores. Coincidentally, the mag is also featured in today’s PW Newsline (a daily email from Publisher’s Weekly) under the topic “The New New Literary Magazine.” Founder Leelila Strogov is quoted describing the intended readership:

“There are many magazines who are doing things right,” she says. “I don’t think they’re always getting into the right hands.” The audience here, she says, is kind of literary-commercial. “It’s Granta and but also The New Yorker,” she said. “We want a literary audience that crosses over into real-live people.”

(Steven Zeitchik wrote the PW Newsline entry.)

Here’s my first impression of the first Swink: Looks artsy, with its funky color illustration on the front and its unconventional size (7 in x 10 in). Similar to late-model McSweeney’s in its use of the paperback format and heavy reliance on all caps and the list of authors on the back. But then it also has a less affected|art school feel than McSweeney’s. The design is a little more mass market, friendlier, more pick-up-able.

Looking at it close up, I think I recognize the dot over the ‘i’ in the logo as being from the Microsoft Design Gallery (from whence I procured the splat used on the Inkburns mug and t-shirt as well, by the by).

Because of the bigger format, the magazine is easier to read than many lit mags (Paris Review, McSweeney’s sometimes), rather like Tin House. No glossy cover like Tin House, though. Also, the interior design is simpler than Tin House, which seems to like to change the page format from story to story.

In short, it looks quite appealing. I’m interested to read it.

This might be a good point to mention that although I subscribe to all these lit mags I read barely any of them. Sometimes I’ll dig into an issue of any one of them and get through most of it, especially Zoetrope, but often I’m overwhelmed by an issue’s arrival, the sheer mass of quality and challenging writing staring me in the eye. Which makes the name “swink” all the more appropriate, as the masthead says it is a noun (archaic) meaning “labor, toil.”