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Minutiae from the makers of Specter, a magazine of literature and art.
Anonymous asked:
What attracted you to this field? What inspired you?

mensahdemary:

There was no one moment or source of inspiration. My parents—college-educated—didn’t instill in me a love of reading at an early age. I didn’t gravitate to books, and though I wrote one or two stories as a child, I never thought of “writer” as a thing I might want to do.

All of that is to say, the attraction to literature—editing and writing—has been a slow burn, of sorts. In my teens, I started writing terrible poetry, which became terrible short fiction. I read a book—“Things Fall Apart”—because I actually wanted to for a change…then I read another book, then another, and so on…

As for inspiration? These days, I want to write like Bolaño and Baldwin and Butler and Smith (Zadie). I want to publish a literary magazine of the same quality as Granta. I don’t want my work to be boring, a great fear of mine. I’m inspired by the writers doing their thing online, writing like their lives are coming to an end, dodging boredom with every syllable.

Anonymous asked:
How do you make sure people hear about the magazine? How do you champion the work in the mag, versus how you champion your own work as a writer?

mensahdemary:

I think there’s room for improvement in how we at Specter Magazine promote the magazine. Our reach via social media—specifically Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook—has enabled us to showcase each writer in each issue. But we could do more. One avenue I’m considering is more cross-promotion between Specter and other literary magazines. Another possibility is, of course, a print issue, and getting into local stores, especially here in NYC.

And to be completely honest, I suck as a “champion” of my own work; I’m much more comfortable championing the work of others. 

“ I have known the joy and pain of friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That’s living. ”

Zora Neale Hurston

I hate that she had to die somewhat secluded as is the often curse of the genius. (Alice Walker bought her headstone post-mortem.) But for a lot of her life, she FUCKING LIVED. Didn’t simply exist and get by. Way ahead of her time. To me she is what Toni Morrison would call a dangerously free Black woman. And I will always be grateful to Alice Walker for bringing her work to the public in a way that without it, it could’ve been lost.

(via gradientlair)

(via shepherdsnotsheep)


Revolutionaries, romance, art, sex, politics. This novel layers it all in a bildungsroman of a nameless young woman called Reno, who’s learning that love and the world outside her are often at odds with one another. The risk becomes abundantly clear: your choices become ways you can lose or learn yourself, often one or the other. Kushner’s protagonist is an intelligent, curious artist navigating the male-dominated worlds of art, politics and motorcycle racing (yes), learning the many ways the body becomes a battlefield. Who am I? What am I for? These are questions Reno struggles with, and you’ll find yourself struggling alongside her, rooting for her all the while.

Our series of top ten books of 2013 concludes with Ashley Bethard, who selected The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner as one of her favorites of the year.

Revolutionaries, romance, art, sex, politics. This novel layers it all in a bildungsroman of a nameless young woman called Reno, who’s learning that love and the world outside her are often at odds with one another. The risk becomes abundantly clear: your choices become ways you can lose or learn yourself, often one or the other. Kushner’s protagonist is an intelligent, curious artist navigating the male-dominated worlds of art, politics and motorcycle racing (yes), learning the many ways the body becomes a battlefield. Who am I? What am I for? These are questions Reno struggles with, and you’ll find yourself struggling alongside her, rooting for her all the while.

Our series of top ten books of 2013 concludes with Ashley Bethard, who selected The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner as one of her favorites of the year.


“The Thickness” – my nickname for Americanah – intimidated me. I tricked myself into reading this novel by creating mini-video updates to hold myself accountable to finishing. It wasn’t just the length that made me anxious; I started two other works by Adichie and had abandoned them. After I read the way she described Princeton’s lack of smell, I relaxed, eager to find more sentences like that first one. Skip all the other books on this list if you must, but not this one.

Today on our blog, Evelyn N. Alfred gives us her top ten books of 2013, which includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.

“The Thickness” – my nickname for Americanah – intimidated me. I tricked myself into reading this novel by creating mini-video updates to hold myself accountable to finishing. It wasn’t just the length that made me anxious; I started two other works by Adichie and had abandoned them. After I read the way she described Princeton’s lack of smell, I relaxed, eager to find more sentences like that first one. Skip all the other books on this list if you must, but not this one.

Today on our blog, Evelyn N. Alfred gives us her top ten books of 2013, which includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.


This book is crazy. It’s just completely nuts. Plot-wise it’s one of the most shocking, appalling books I’ve ever read. It’s also incredibly well-written. I will tell you I couldn’t put the danged thing down. At one point I screamed and threw it across the room, only to get up and put it back in my lap and pet the weird fuzzy cover. The last lines of this book are gut-wrenching but as a whole, the entire thing is totally worth the read if only for the excitement of being all like whuuuuuu ?!? after pretty much every line.

Today on Specter’s Blog, we kick off our series of Top Ten Books of 2013 lists with Leesa Cross-Smith, who selected Alissa Nutting’s Tampa as one of her favorites of the year.

This book is crazy. It’s just completely nuts. Plot-wise it’s one of the most shocking, appalling books I’ve ever read. It’s also incredibly well-written. I will tell you I couldn’t put the danged thing down. At one point I screamed and threw it across the room, only to get up and put it back in my lap and pet the weird fuzzy cover. The last lines of this book are gut-wrenching but as a whole, the entire thing is totally worth the read if only for the excitement of being all like whuuuuuu ?!? after pretty much every line.

Today on Specter’s Blog, we kick off our series of Top Ten Books of 2013 lists with Leesa Cross-Smith, who selected Alissa Nutting’s Tampa as one of her favorites of the year.

“ If he replies “I don’t give advice on matters like that, I just slice the meat the way the customer tells me to,” he’s the wrong fellow.
The guy next to him is your Adonis. ”
An excerpt of “A Horoscope Prediction For The Goddess That You Are” by Martin H. Levinson, in the December issue of Specter.

(Source: spectermagazine.com)

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