A Letter from Thomas Beller

Dear Friends of Open City,

Frank Flaherty, an editor at the New York Times, had the top third of an old tree that lives in front of his house in Brooklyn blown off in a tornado that swept through town not long ago, and he has been worried about its fate ever since. For this reason, in a roundabout way, please give money to Open City, which now strides into its twentieth year of publishing a magazine, and its tenth year of publishing books.

To make the connection between Frank's tree and why you should consider making a donation to Open City, let me bring in the late John Fowles, whose slender volume, The Tree, was recently released by Ecco Press thirty years after its initial pub date, and has popped onto best-seller lists all over the country.

The Tree is a meditation on the tree as a singular thing, and also on "trees." The dense forest. Chaotic growth intertwining and intersecting to create an environment. Fowles grew up with a father who was obsessed with the individual tree and pruned the tiny stand of fruit trees squeezed into their suburban back yard with such vigor they produced prize winning fruit (mostly pears). As an adult, Fowles gravitated to the wild forest. He bought land but did not prune, did not tend. It grew wildly and he walked in its midst, gleaning not fruit but inspiration.

Open City, like all little magazines and presses, started as a singular shoot and seeks to build a world. Our first issue in 1991 featured short stories by Hubert Selby Jr., Mary Gaitskill, Vince Passaro, and art by Devon Dikeou and, God help us, Jeff Koons. Since then we have gone on to publish innumerable debuts of writers whose names are now established: Lara Vapynar, Vestal McIntyre, Irvine Welsh, Martha McPhee, and many more, not to mention those you don't know now but certainly will. Sam Lipsyte, David Berman, Rachel Sherman, and Meghan Daum published their first books with Open City; Edward St. Aubyn's US debut was with Open City. Most recently in the news, Karoo by Steve Tesich, which was brought back to life by Open City after many years out of print, was named, alongside works by Philip Roth, Joseph Roth, Joseph Conrad, and Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the "Five Best Novels about Failure" in last weekend's Wall Street Journal.

We wish to continue. Write us a check. Take a walk in our woods. Click here for details on how to donate.

With best holiday wishes from my co-editor Joanna Yas and myself,

Thomas Beller

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