Monday, February 05, 2007

The chicken or the egg?

I've actually been meaning to post on this for a while, but interest finally seems to have reached a critical mass, and I've finally been able to steal an extra few minutes.

A few of the comments on some of my posts about Red Cedar Review and Michigan writers have revolved around Thomas McGuane's relationship to RCR, and one particularly knowledgeable commentator has mentioned an enigmatic precursor to RCR named Tarot.

Red Cedar Review, when it talks about its history, will often cite Thomas McGuane as one of its founders. Notably, Volume 32, #1 from 1995 is "dedicated to the men who started Red Cedar Review: Jim Cash, Walt Lockwood, [and] Thomas McGuane." This is a beautifully absurd list that, in its own way, is not absolutely inaccurate.

In truth, Thomas McGuane never worked on, nor was he printed by "Red Cedar Review." McGuane founded a literary magazine named Tarot in 1961 with a handful of other people. (J. D. Reed and Ron English appear to be the two other primary names on the masthead.) McGuane edited two issues in 1961, each of which contains one of his stories.

Walter Lockwood appears to have joined the staff for the second issue of Tarot, and edited the third issue, which appeared in 1962. In 1963 Jim Cash and Walter Lockwood renamed and relaunched Tarot as Red Cedar Review. (Volume 25, #1 of RCR is particularly interesting for short memory pieces by Cash, Lockwood, and others which are both enlightening, and, occasionally, delightfully misleading.)

Cash, Lockwood, and McGuane never appear on either magazine's masthead all at the same time. I would also argue that Peggy Case and Etta Abrahams, in particular, were instrumental in shaping the early course of RCR.

Once again, the trouble with any list is that you inevitably leave someone out. For my purposes, I'm going to leave McGuane off the list of notable writers published by RCR because, in fact, McGuane never appears in Red Cedar Review. I encourage McGuane to appeal the decision, mostly because it would be really cool to get a note from Thomas McGuane.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Wow! Tarot! That is incredible. If there's to be a ghostly lit mag lurking in MSU's shadows, I'm glad it's called Tarot.