Friends, we are old. Amie recently spent a month convinced she had Parkinson's (a finger tremor caused by excessive use of an iPhone). Clancy has to regularly pluck the boar bristle hairs that sprout from the lobe of his left ear.
But I remember the first fiction issue, ten years ago. We were still pretty small then. Everyone in the office was a little nervous that it wouldn't be VICE-y. We got a few stories from FSG, through Ben White, a friend of mine who worked in the publicity department. Two of the stories were by Lydia Davis and John Haskell, people we were very lucky to have. But then some questions came up. Were the stories good? Others in the office wondered. Who were these authors they'd never heard of, who weren't even writing about sex or drugs. We had to cut the stories. My friend at FSG was mortified and begged me to talk to the people in the office. I was inexperienced. I didn't know what to say.
Finally, I came up with what I thought was the perfect lie. I said, "Just tell them, tell Lydia Davis, that she was cut for space." He gave up, exasperated. We also were able to publish fiction by Andrea Dworkin. She submitted it to us through a friend of hers. He and I talked on the phone once, and I think he may be the only person I've ever spoken to with a softer voice than mine. I had a friend at ArtForum who shared his mailing list with me, and so I emailed a lot of famous writers. Most didn't answer. One, Mary Gaitskill, wrote to say that she didn't like being called Mrs. Gaitskill. She even sort of suggested that I'd never read her fiction. Impulsively, I wrote back a girlish note saying that I had, and a year later, she sent us a short story.
For our next fiction issue, somehow someone had finally heard of John Haskell, and I had to go back to Ben, who went back to Haskell's editor, who re-sent the stories that had been "cut for space."
Things have changed all around. In 2008, a story we published by Ottessa Moshfegh came off her MySpace page. This year, she was up for the Booker Prize, and we have a story by her. In 2007, I asked Khyentse Norbu to write a column for VICE. He wrote to ask how it would go, and I suggested he take a long view. I didn't hear back from him. Maybe you have to read his work to understand that story. An excerpt from the screenplay for his new movie Hema Hema—the scene we chose didn't appear in the final film—is in this year's issue.
In the past ten years, we have published stories by Richard Price, Evan S. Connell, Rebecca Curtis, David Mamet, Flannery O'Connor, Chuck Palahniuk, Joyce Carol Oates, Jim Shepard, and many, many others. We've also cultivated some favorites over the years. Paul Maliszewski, who we have fooled into contributing to the magazine since 2008, has a story in this issue called "How to Beat Your Wife at Chess"—a must read. We first published work by Robert Coover in our second issue, and are very happy to have his story "Family Picnic" for 2016.
This year, among the others already mentioned, we are proud to include work by Rachel Cusk, Tim Parks, Joshua Ferris, Charles Bock, and Roxane Gay. We are particularly excited about some younger voices, like Kaitlin Phillips, Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Ben Nugent, Christine Smallwood, and Thessaly La Force.
Ten years ago, it felt like there were a lot of big magazines publishing fiction. In 2016, we are one of the few magazines that still publishes fiction in almost every issue, in addition to this, our yearly fiction issue. That's something.
Read with pleasure. We'll check back with you in 2026.
Amie and Clancy