Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Todd Robins
It’s widely believed that Balzac’s literary activities wound down when he died in the 19th century, but his ghost visited Todd Robins’s College Hill lair one morning in the fall of 2018. Balzac's message was clear: (A) found a literary magazine, and (B) name it after his criminal mastermind character, Vautrin. The great Frenchman then prevailed upon an intriguing mix of writers to contribute to the inaugural issue. Robins typed the submissions on his Smith Corona Silent from the 50s, resulting in Volume 1, Issue 1 of Wichita’s new print-only literary magazine. Le voila !
Among the highlights:
- Fiction from native Wichitan Scott Phillips, titled Labio-Dental Fricative and featuring the return of the wily rogue Bill Ogden of Cottonwood and Hop Alley fame.
- Poetry from the great Albert Goldbarth, sublimely cast in the Vautrin-esque trickster sweet spot.
- Mystery fiction from award-winning Canadian writer Sylvia Maultash Warsh.
- Raucous mafioso crime fiction from New Jersey writer Thomas Pluck, author of the forthcoming novel Riff Raff.
- An essay about Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s novel The Shape of the Ruins, by former Watermarker, Susan Gusho.
- An essay about literary movements by former Watermarker Jason Quinn Malott, author of The Evolution of Shadows.
- Fictional intrigue from the pseudonymous Kerry Page.
- Debut poetry from the extraordinary Suzannah Guthrie.
- An astrology-infused crime story from a 1920 issue of The Black Mask (released to the public domain).
- Essayist Paul Dee Fecteau ponders the Tarot as applicable to the Coen brother’s film The Big Lebowski.
- An essay about Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle: Book Six, by Chicagoan Andrew Larson.
- Poetry from Marysville's Scott Richard that sneaks up on us, a la Ezra Pound.
- Trump Tower: The First Omen, by Carlos Herrera, in which the political consultant Nigel Strode ponders the reelection run of the GOP's finest.
- Cover art by former Watermarker, Beth Golay