SUMMER FICTION TITS
I don’t consider myself post-feminist; I’m still just feminist. So what, then, is with the tits on the cover? Let’s call it experimental (though certainly not innovative) marketing.
Viz Fence Volume 6, number 2, Fall/Winter 2003. A fine issue, packed with the usual highly individualized, specifically loaded, virtually unrepeatable content. Stories, poems, even features, including family-style interviews and a jaw-drop- pingly candid take on poetry publishers, large and small. Check our website to be reminded of what I speak.
Those of you who read these occasional notes with any degree of interest may have already sniffed my abiding engagement, as the publisher of this magazine, with its sales figures. Imagine my wry bemusement, then, to see that this issue, as worthy as any other, sold significantly less on the newsstand and at bookstores than any others, before or since. A typical issue of Fence has a sell-through rate of around 60 percent. This issue, which includes work by Jean Valentine, John Taggart, Jane Miller, Hal Sirowitz, Diane Williams, Lydia Davis, and a host of alluring unknowns, sold a mere 35 percent of its allotment to our distributor. The bemusing part is that, upon noting this, I knew immediately what must be the cause of the drop. And it ain’t the economy, “stupid.”
The cover of this particular issue was rather, shall we say, subtle. Again, I refer you to our website to revisit the charming, even piquant charcoal drawing, by featured art- ist Jimbo Blachly, of a slightly inscrutable feature of some landscape—perhaps a hole in the ground surrounded by some grass and with a few small cans tipped over on the horizon line. Really a pretty image. And our designer, Adam Hurwitz, created a sensitive composition for the detailing of this image on our cover, placing it daintily down at the right-hand bottom, and leaving a nice white expanse of page to rest the eye upon before or after its inevitable journey toward the delicacy in the corner. I pause now to muse upon the dubious impulses that govern my own, and the average consumer’s, purchases.
Tits and giggles, really, when it comes right down to it, and perhaps more tits than giggles. Metaphorically speaking, it’s tits that make us want to buy something, whether it be a journal or a car or a handbag or a sweater for a baby—if tits can be made to stand in for the quotient of glamour, or the promise of effulgence, or the metronomic catapult of image saturation: one eye on the tit back at the tit back at your eye. Tits equals extra. Tits equals vibration. Tits equals fiction! Tits equals valley and leverage, glen and demonstration. Tits equals hot food for the rest of your life. Quinne’s tits, god love her, are exceptionally big and pretty, like her eyes; perhaps someday she will feed a baby with their milk, if she has not already.
What is a tit, really? As a woman entering her eighth heavenly month of breastfeeding, happy as all get-out to be plumping up my Margot, an eighteen-pounder built of nothing, so far, but the milk from my own considerably smaller, considerably older tits, I am currently feeling even more especially fond of tits than usual. Margot has an entirely unconflicted relationship to my tits: When she’s hungry she wants them; she cries out; they are delivered to her. So why not, I thought, give the people what they can also be understood to want. It is a more than slightly ironic comment on my own initial promise to make Fence “visually appealing and desirable as a consumer product” (see my 2000 interview on bookmouth.com).
For all of these reasons I am happy to sport these nice, round, probably warm tits on the cover of this special double-fat summer-fiction issue of Fence. Thanks, Quinne!