Short stories have been under seige for the last decade, starting from before the year when Story Magazine had to close its doors. The Atlantic Monthly, probably the most prestigious venue for a piece of prose, stopped publishing a story an issue in 2004. Its fiction editor C. Michael Curtis, who’s been reading (and mostly rejecting) stories since 1963, had this to say in 2005 about how The Atlantic was going to keep its short fiction prestige:
This summer The Atlantic is publishing its first ever fiction issue, composed entirely of short stories, related commentary, and poetry. With fiction no longer featured every month, this issue embodies the magazine’s continued commitment to a literary tradition envisioned by its founders when they described The Atlantic Monthly as “a magazine of Literature, Art and Politics.”
Except that the Fiction Issue — I haven’t seen mine yet in my 2006 subscription — only ran eight short stories, instead of 12. If The Atlantic can’t seem to find a readership for short stories, what’s happening instead?
Look to One Story to see a novel, alternative approach. Each issue carries just one story, printed in a 5×7 format. They put out 18 a year for $21. Outpublishing The Atlantic, and with award-winning stories, too.
The days of slick, literate magazines are fading. There are many places to submit your work, publications that don’t believe glossy paper implies glossy content.