How Publishing Is Rigged You thought it was a meritocracy??

8Nov/11

Who’s my Guinea Pig?

Guinea Pig

Earlier this year, Boston Review published this boring piece of MFA Story-styled fiction. I’d like to take you through this story bit by bit and point out some of the places where this story fails. And I promise you, I’m not looking high and low to find examples of stories that fall into one (or more) of those four categories. Pick up any magazine, flip to the fiction section and within the first few paragraphs (if the work contains paragraphs) you’ll be able to tell which of the four story types you’ve got on your hands.

Link to the full story: Guinea Pig by Charles Johnson, Boston Review January/February 2011

Here's how “Guinea Pig” starts:

I was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, with a double major in Philosophy and English, those two broken and declining (if not already dead) fields in higher education.

There are major warning signs right from the beginning that we’re going to have an MFA Story ahead of us. Didn’t even have to finish the first paragraph, right? From the start we have an English major—no, wait, our guy is a double major—he’s got Philosophy too. And we have a college, so the story is most likely set on or around a college campus. Of course the featured university is the very same university where the author is a professor. I know this because I looked him up: “Charles Johnson is a National Book Award–winning author and Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Washington.” As in: Seattle, Washington. I wonder if Charles Johnson also majored in Philosophy.

CLICK TO READ MORE...Who’s my Guinea Pig?