Nobody makes writing sound more romantic, important, and magical than a writer, and that’s why writing about writers is a writer’s favorite pastime. Visit any bookstore’s how-to-write section and you’ll find volume after volume that describes writing as an art, a craft, a calling, a sacred trust. A writer can make writing sound like the most important activity in the world, and the only thing writers love to do more than publicly praise the work of another writer is to talk shit about other writers in the bar after the reading.
A major pitfall of writing about writers, though, is finding readers. Many readers don’t have the patience for the up-their-own-buttholeness of writing about writing. (Take it from a book critic who’s been in the business for a while.) After all, we use the term “writer’s writer” to describe little-read but much-admired authors. So if you’re going to publish the writing of writers on the topic of writers, you’d better have a damn good reason.
Since 2009, Seattle literary magazine PageBoy has published high-quality writing and art in a utilitarian package: each volume tends to be beige and low on flashy graphic design save a few full-color prints from a featured artist. This minimalism is intentional; it pushes the words right into the foreground of the reader’s attention. And PageBoy editor Thomas Walton always does right by those words. The table of contents in each issue is a parade of high-quality local talent, and Walton always coaxes the very best out of them.
Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition, or online here at Seattle Review of Books.Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.