The Real Scandal at the Virginia Quarterly Review

If you are already familiar with poet and critic Dan Schneider, you likely either love him or hate him. If you don't know him, I'll simply tell you that he has an ability to cut through literary BS like no one else.

In the last few weeks we've all heard about the scandal at The Virginia Quarterly Review. How the editor of that prestigious university literary journal supposedly bullied an underling into committing suicide.

Well, after reading Dan's examination of the issue I realized that suicide drama isn't the real scandal. Instead, it's the fact that editor Ted Genoways was paid $134k a year to run a magazine which only had a few thousand readers and was supported by public funds. Even worse, the magazine lost amazing amounts of money each year even as Genoways spent down the magazine's once-sizable endowment.

As Dan points out, this is similar to how corrupt CEOs and high-flying Wall Street firms nearly brought down our economy even as they coated their parachutes in solid gold.

In the second half of the article Dan also critiques some of the writings published by VQR and states that the real reason journals like VQR are in trouble is because of their "I'll publish you if you publish me" attitudes. This is an issue which has been debated around literary publishing for decades and I doubt Dan's comments will change anyone's mind. But it's still an interesting analysis.

Now I'm a fan of literary magazines, and even helped found an online journal called storySouth. However, the numbers Dan has pulled together about VQR are outrageous and must be seen by everyone. Go check out the essay.