Oberlin Blogs

The Last Week

December 17, 2008

John West ’10

The last weeks of the semester are always a hellish time. The end of Fall Semester is always sunless, grey, and bleeding-lips cold. This utter lack of warmth and sun, combined with the rampant insomnia and overwhelming amount of work, makes the campus seem less like sweet, pastoral, rural Ohio and more like a scene from Doctor Zhivago. And it isn't much better at the end of Spring Semester, either. Sure, it's sunny and warm, but all of that just makes it even more difficult to concentrate on the crushing piles of work you have to do.

Like I said, the last weeks of the semester are always hellish. But there are some good things. For example, head massages and free coffee in the otherwise-depressing A Level (the sunless, slightly smelly basement of the main library, Mudd). Also, you have an excuse to have poor personal hygiene: everyone smells bad during finals! And, of course, there are the magazines -- so many magazines.

I know that I -- and others -- have already written a great deal about how Oberlin College's journalism scene is the bee's knees. Nevertheless, the end-of-semester flood of publications is always an inspiring time; it's hard not to want to brag about our vast and kick-ass selection of on-campus magazines.

For starters, I'd like to pat myself on the back. I am, as any of you who have read my delightful little bio know, the managing editor of Wilder Voice, a magazine dedicated to long form journalism and creative nonfiction. Well, our sixth issue just came out, and, if I do say so myself, it looks fantastic.

But Wilder Voice isn't the only magazine to come out at the end of the semester. The Plum Creek Review (Oberlin's literary magazine), In Solidarity, and the third issue of Spiral, Oberlin's genre-fiction magazine also came out. Congratulations are in order, I believe to Aries Indenbaum, another blogger here. The first part of her serialized sci-fi-ish story came out. It's about shit (literally) and other stuff too. Congratulations are in order, indeed, to the staff of Spiral -- who did a great job -- and to all the many, many people who wrote and did art for it.

I can't tell you how amazing it is that we have a genre-fiction magazine. After all, professional genre magazines are folding left and right. And, despite the belated but much-deserved respect people have finally begun affording genre work, it is still often ghettoized in bookstores, relegated to the back shelves; only a few authors are plucked out (Vonnegut and Chabon, for example) and allowed to be called literature.

It is at colleges (and, especially, at forward-thinking, progressive colleges like Oberlin) where there is funding, support, and talented people who are able to create things (like genre-fiction magazines) that would be economically and culturally untenable in the real world. So, for those of you reading this at Oberlin, pick up a copy of Spiral, of Wilder Voice, Plum Creek Review, In Solidarity, and all of our other kick-ass magazines and give them a read.

You probably won't have a chance to read high quality, free work like this outside of the Oberlin bubble.

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