November 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Andrew Gallix, “Go Forth (Vol. 4)” by Nicolle Elizabeth, The Believer Logger 14 November 2012
Andrew Gallix is editor-in-chief of 3:AM Magazine, which the Guardian credits as technically the first literary blog ever. He writes fiction and criticism, edits books, and teaches at the Sorbonne, and I love him.
NICOLLE ELIZABETH: What is 3:AM, and how did it start?
ANDREW GALLIX: 3:AM is one of the oldest literary webzines out there, as it was launched in April 2000. We were among the first to make use of the international dimension of the web: the founder was American, our first webmaster was Canadian, and the rest of the team was located in Britain, France, Ireland and the US. We were the first, or one of the first, to launch a literary blog (if by that you mean a compendium of literary news links). We innovated by placing fiction in a wider cultural (artistic, in particular musical) context. We also pioneered the revival of live literary events in London, mixing music, art, and spoken word.
NE: This is a collective thing?
AG: Very much so. The whole point of 3:AM was to foster a community of literary loners; to create a space where we can be alone together.
NE: Print ever or no?
AG: Two anthologies of 3:AM short stories (edited by Andrew Stevens) have been published, but the magazine itself is online-only. I think we were also pioneers from that point of view: we realized that online publications were the way forward. They cost virtually nothing, which means that only literary/artistic criteria apply, instead of financial considerations. There are no space constraints (a piece can be as long or as short as it needs to be). You can reach so many more readers than if you publish a story in a small literary journal. Christiana Spens has just launched 3:AM Press, which releases both ebooks and limited print editions, showing our attachment to both formats.
NE: Main concerns ethically?
AG: There is no party line, although we are rather contrarian, hence our tagline (a nod to Groucho Marx, the Ramones, and Adorno): “Whatever it is, we’re against it.” It sounds rather pedantic, I know, but what I consider to be real literature is always, at some level, a writing against itself.
NE: Main concerns aesthetically?
AG: Once again, 3:AM is a very broad anti-church. Personally, I think we should publish fiction that has the inevitability of death.
NE: What advice do you have for those who wish to start a magazine?
AG: Don’t give up the day job.
NE: Anything else you’d like to tell us here?
AG: Sure, but only things which cannot be told.
July 22, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This appeared in Guardian Books on 10 July 2012:
Whatever Happened to 3:AM Magazine?
When the 3:AM website suddenly vanished last week, the might of social media helped track down the person who could switch the server back on. But what are the implications for online magazines?
[Turn it on again ... server outages were undeniably on the rise, but this time there was no website to check. Photograph: Thomas Northcut/Getty Images]
I concluded my last contribution to this site with a quotation from Maurice Blanchot: “Literature is going toward itself, toward its essence, which is disappearance”. Little did I know that 3:AM Magazine — the literary webzine I had edited with a group of friends for more than a decade — would shortly after vanish suddenly into cyberspace. Whether it was going toward its essence is a moot point, which falls outside of our present remit.
When I am not running late, I often check the website, along with my email, before setting off for work. The last time I performed this routine, I sat, for what seemed like ages, staring, bleary-eyed, at an empty page that obstinately refused to load. Blogger’s block, as I like to call it, is a less heroic, technological version of l’angoisse de la page blanche: the agony experienced by writers in front of a blank page. The only sign of activity came from the little dotted line going round and round in vicious circles like Sisyphus‘s boulder or — rather fittingly in this instance — nobody’s business. With hindsight, I realise it should have put me in mind of the proverbial dotted line on which dodgy contracts are carelessly signed. At this juncture, however, I wasn’t unduly worried — or at least I wasn’t yet aware that my relative (and frankly uncharacteristic) nonchalance may have been (was) inappropriate. After all, this sort of thing had been happening — not happening — on and off for several months, and each time normal service had resumed of its own accord, as if by magic.
Although rare, server outages were undeniably on the rise, and downtime had gone from a couple of hours to a couple of days. This, of course, should have prompted a reassessment of my non-interventionist attitude, but there was little I could do, short of moving the entire website to a new company and server, which is precisely the kind of drastic measure I was eager to postpone for as long as possible. Attempting to make contact with our host — whether by phone, email, carrier pigeon or Ouija board — was a fruitless exercise I had long given up in favour of more fulfilling pursuits such as staring at empty web pages failing to load. Besides, these outages afforded me a few guilty pleasures, not least a little breathing space from the frenzy of online activity: they reminded me of the carnivalesque atmosphere brought about, in my childhood household, by the power cuts of the 1970s. And there was the frisson of flirting with disaster without going all the way — until that fated morning when I tried to check the website only to discover that there was no website to check. There was still no website when I came home from work that evening, nor the following day, nor the day after that. When the expected resurrection had failed, Godot-like, to materialise for almost a week, we were forced to contemplate the nightmare scenario of having lost 12 years’ worth of archives.
The web is a Library of Babel that could go the way of the Library of Alexandria. It is the last word in the quest for a book in which everything would be said — a tradition that extends from epic poetry to Joyce’s Ulysses through the Bible, the Summa Theologica, Coleridge‘s omnium-gatherum and the great encyclopedias, as well as Mallarmé‘s “Grand Oeuvre”. It is the ultimate Gesamtkunstwerk — “the catalog of catalogs”, the “total” library conjured up by Borges — but it also marks the triumph of the ephemeral.
In order to mimic the instant gratification provided by the web, Argentinian publisher Eterna Cadencia recently published an anthology of short stories using disappearing ink. Once you open the volume, the ink begins to fade in contact with light and air, vanishing completely within two months. In recent years, I have received a growing number of requests from early contributors to 3:AM Magazine, asking me to delete a poem or story of theirs. These people are usually applying for a new job, and find themselves haunted online by youthful incarnations of themselves that may jeopardise their futures. Yet it only took an instant for someone to switch off 3:AM‘s server and solve this problem. The past does not pass on the web; it lingers or resurfaces — unless, of course, it is wiped away. In our case, most of the material was retrievable via the Internet Archive, but as Sam Jordison pointed out in a recent email, how can we be sure that this site, or a similar one, will always be around? At least, in the old days of dead trees, you could safeguard copies of your journal in libraries or universities. When 3:AM was launched, I used to print out every new article we posted, but stopped when the site started running to thousands of pages. I had never imagined that the company I was paying to host, and indeed back up, our webzine would vanish without a word of warning, like disappearing ink.
3:AM‘s servers (located in Dallas, Texas) were owned by a company (based in Saint Joseph, Missouri) whose website was down. Emails bounced back and the phone had been disconnected. We naturally assumed that the owner — whose main claim to fame was his contribution to the penis-enlargement business — had done a runner. But as soon as the word was out, we were inundated with heart-warming messages of support and offers of help via social media, and within a few hours, Twitter had located the owner’s whereabouts. 3:AM readers informed us that he was now the landlord of — or an employee in (there were conflicting reports) — a tattoo parlour. Someone even kindly mailed me an overexposed picture of the aforementioned establishment.
American novelist Steve Himmer spotted that he and the alleged fugitive had a friend in common on Facebook, who was able to send a direct message. London-based author Susana Medina friended him and striked up a conversation. His mobile phone number and personal email addresses were soon unearthed and passed on by amateur sleuths. Blogger Edward Champion conducted a phone interview with the errant entrepreneur in which the latter claimed that he had wound up his web hosting business in 2008 and had no idea that he was still hosting us. He mentioned a “server admin in Bucharest” — name of Florin — who had been handling the company’s “lingering details”. If this is all true, and it could well be, 3:AM had been running on some unattended phantom server. I also wonder whom I have been paying all these years.
Thanks to our readers’ support, and to Champion’s fine detective work, the server has been switched back on (possibly by Florin) … until we migrate elsewhere.
July 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Serena Danna, “Black out spaventa la rivista online: spariti nella Rete 12 anni di lavoro,” Corriere della Sera 11 July 2012: 29.
A larger version of this newspaper cutting can be found here.
A few selected extracts:
“[...] il sito letterario 3:AM, simbolo della controcultura londinese degli anni Zero [...] il direttore della rivista Andrew Gallix, definisce il “bloco del blogger: la versione tecnologica e meno eroica dell’angoisse de la page blanche, la paralisi dello scrittore davanti alla pagina bianca”. [...] La squadra di Gallix — responsabile del primo blog letterario di Internet, “Buzzwords” [...] La storia del magazine che ha lanciato la nuova generazione di talenti londinesi (da Tom McCarthy a Lee Rourke) e che omaggia nel nome il piacere del lavoro notturno di molti scrittori, è emblematica dei rischi legati alla produzione “immateriale” del web. [...] “Per tre anni siamo stati ospiti in una casa di cui non conoscevamo il padrone”, ironizza Gallix, docente di letteratura inglese all’Università Sorbona di Parigi. Eccesso di superficialità? Il direttore si difende: “3:AM è un sito senza scopo di lucro e nessuno si intende di informatica: se avessimo avuto profitti dal nostro lavoro letterario, li avremmo usati per pagare un tecnico”. [...] Quando Gallix ha visto il promo-video della collana non poteva imaginare che sarebbe successo a lui: “Dobbiamo lavorare per salvaguardare la letteratura che si produce online — avverte —. Le generazioni passate potevano fare affidamento su documenti, libri e lettere degli autori: che fine farano le mail dei grandi scrittori di oggi?”. Il rischio è “che la biblioteca di Babele che è il web si transformi nella biblioteca di Alessandria”, chiosa Gallix, citando il più importante centro di libri del mondo antico andato distrutto [...]“
July 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday, I was interviewed by Serena Dana for a piece on 3:AM Magazine‘s recent blackout. It features in today’s Corriere della Sera:
July 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Guardian‘s Richard Lea kindly asked me to write a piece about 3:AM Magazine‘s recent vanishing act. You can read it here.
July 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Edward Champion, “3:AM Magazine — How Twelve Years of Literary Content Disappeared in an Instant,” Reluctant Habits 6 July 2012
3:AM Magazine, the first literary magazine to champion Tom McCarthy’s work and a pioneering avant vanguard that had published the early work of Tao Lin, Tony O’Neill, and Ben Myers, had vanished in an instant, with the hosting company seemingly disappearing along with it. While a substantial chunk of the magazine’s content was still available through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, there was no backup. And according to editor-in-chief Andrew Gallix, the site was held together by little more than “a doctored WordPress system”.
“It never occurred to me that our server could just be switched off without a word of warning and that the owner would do a runner!” wrote Gallix to me by email. Gallix’s efforts earlier in the week to reach the host were unsuccessful. Emails bounced. The phone had been disconnected. Gallix hadn’t received so much as a notice that his valiant magazine was disconnected and no longer in service.
While Gallix had used another host for a site dedicated to McCarthy’s work, he never switched 3:AM over during the twelve years he ran the site. He had a full-time day job. He wanted to read and he wanted to write. If the server crapped out, it would find a way to resurface after a time. “I kept postponing the move in the hope that things would improve,” said Gallix.
There was no reason for Gallix to worry. Because he had experienced very few problems. “The site was down on some occasions,” said Gallix, “sometimes just for a couple of hours; at worst for a whole day: there didn’t seem to be any real cause for concern”.
* * *
3:AM began, as many literary magazines begin, with a short story. Gallix started corresponding with an American named Kent Wilson, and a website was born. 3:AM Magazine, initially a static site comprised of a handful of stories, was founded in 1999. But Wilson had an unanticipated spiritual awakening. And 3:AM, which abided by the motto “Whatever it is, we’re against it,” didn’t fit into these mysterious ways. Wilson asked Gallix to take over 3:AM in April 2000.
“We were the first to really make use of the global dimension of the web,” said Gallix. “All the editors and contributors met online, and it was only after that some of us became friends in real life”.
This commitment to friendship and passion sustained a literary magazine with a distinct and inimical tone. “While in the middle of a feverish pawing at the back-clip of her bra,” begins one typically edgy and entertaining story around this time, “I did not think much of her whispering in my ear that she could not stay for the night because she had to go home feed Satan”.
But as long as the website continued to work, Gallix didn’t rue over the technical logistics. Wilson had given Gallix the name of a host: RMIhost.com, which was run by Reece Marketing Inc. Reece Marketing Inc. was a one man operation run by Brandon Reece. And when I tracked Reece down by telephone on Friday afternoon, he told me that he was stunned that someone was still using it.
“We haven’t done hosting for four or five years,” said Reece, who sounded somewhat surprised at the news that 3:AM had vanished. “I haven’t hosted anybody’s site since 2008.”
Gallix informed me later in the afternoon that he had paid an annual hosting fee, but it was unclear whether someone had taken over from Reece. He received an email every year asking to pay for the next year. So what was RMIhost.com?
“That’s all still up there,” replied Reece. “It’s not doing any business.”
Reece claimed to not know anything about 3:AM Magazine. He said his company had once specialized in website design and had operated out of Dallas. “It was never a successful side company,” said Reece.
Reece recalled a guy named Kent when I asked him. He identified a “born again Christian,” and confirmed that this was Kent Wilson when I provided the surname. But Reece didn’t appear to know what Wilson had given him. Was it possible that he wasn’t even paying attention to RMIHost?
“I don’t ever remember hosting 3:AM Magazine,” said Reece. “I think I would know.”
Reece referred to “a server admin in Bucharest” — a gentleman named Florin — who he promised to email tonight. When I asked Reece if RMIhost had leased any particular server, he seemed baffled.
“DNS,” said Reece. “I haven’t done anything like this in a while.”
Reece was busy “looking for something new right now”. He intimated that he was in a transition period and that the hosting company had been more of an unprofitable sideline. These days, he was living on savings.
“I don’t trust my personal expertise,” said Reece when I asked him about his technical chops. “I don’t even know how to do that myself. You forget everything you do.” But he did promise to get on the case by Monday. He also allowed me to pass along his contact information to Gallix.
As for Gallix, he informed me that he had tech people retrieving what they could off the Internet Archive. But even if 3:AM manages to extract the content, he’s unsure about what “more reliable and reputable host” he’ll offload his content onto. The experience revealed to Gallix “the fragility of online content”.
It remains unclear whether Reece was playing dumb or acting in good faith. But he was willing to pass along his contact info to Gallix, even after I informed him of the significant online outcry that had followed 3:AM‘s server outage. And these efforts do represent a step in the right direction to preserve 3:AM‘s vast archive.
No matter how the 3:AM predicament works out — and there are positive signs that it will — preserving online work may very well be as dangerous as other historical precedents. Or as Tom McCarthy, reached on holiday, declared to me upon learning the news, “My first reaction is: ALEXANDRIA!”
[7/6/2012 6:45 PM UPDATE: As of 6:45 PM EST, 3:AM Magzine has been restored. Many thanks to all who helped out with this story and to Mr. Reece for following through with his promise.]
July 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Nick Clark, “Web Hits Delete on Magazine’s 12-Year Archive,” The Independent 6 July 2012
When avant-garde literary website 3:AM Magazine went down a week ago, staff hoped it would be up and running within the day.
But they now fear that 12 years of archived material — every article they have published — may be lost for ever after it emerged those responsible for the site’s servers have vanished.
Andrew Gallix, editor-in-chief, told The Independent that the events of the past week have been “traumatic” and highlighted the “the fragility of online content”.
He added: “I never expected those who were meant to host and back up our content to just switch us off without even telling us.”
Messages of support flooded in from Facebook and Twitter for one of the original book blogs. One reader wrote: “Twelve years of writing, vanished. Here’s hoping it’s able to continue somehow.”
Mr Gallix has run the site since 2000, with the literary webzine attracting acclaimed writers including Lee Rourke, Tony O’Neill and Booker Prize nominee Tom McCarthy.
[...] As for 3:AM, Mr Gallix is trying to track down the person responsible for the servers. After a few false leads, as well as a disconnected phone and emails bouncing back, he believes he has tracked him down.
“At this stage, we do not know if we’ll ever be able to speak to him and if he can switch his server back on long enough to allow us to move 12 years’ worth of content to another, more reliable host,” Mr Gallix said. “I should have backed it up somewhere else, but it never occurred to me.”
November 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Darran Anderson briefly mentions “Dr Martens’ Bouncing Souls” in his review of the New Cross-Fucked Musings on a Manic Reality anthology (edited by Tom Bradley). He describes the story as “a bruising but graceful play on language, violence and cocksmanship,” which just about sums it up. (The review appeared in 3:AM Magazine on 27 October 2011.)
July 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
October 18, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Katie Allen, “Indie Literary Sites Start Coming of Age,” The Bookseller 8 October 2010:
For the time being, print still rules. There is no denying the cachet of Granta, the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, plus a number of smaller publications such as Litro and print-and-online publications such as Pen Pusher and Notes from the Underground.
Yet alongside Hamish Hamilton’s own project, Five Dials, the recent recruitment of publishing names including Scott Pack, Simon Trewin and Alma Books m.d. Alessandro Gallenzi as columnists for The View from Here is an example of how seriously the trade is taking independent literary websites.
Gallenzi became involved out of interest in “promoting new talent, new voices, new writers”. However, he is wary of the proliferation of online books content. “There is a certain hierarchy of critics and reviews. I respect the opinion of certain critics because of who he or she is and what they have done before . . . You have to take it on a blog-by-blog basis,” he said.
Sandra Taylor — Pan Mac publicity and digital communications manager — is a keen advocate of online literary magazines.“It’s hard to identify a spike in sales, as you can with a book being mentioned on Radio 4. But we definitely see it as part of a fully integrated campaign because if a reader wants to Google one of our authors, we want there to be richer content available. It’s interesting and important for Google rankings. It’s also important in terms of supporting new writers.”
Viola Fort, editor of untitledbooks.com, said: “Publishers are getting more web-savvy. From the beginning, they saw us as credible. We’ve got a much younger audience than traditional literary magazines. I wanted to do something on a par, but with a new way of access.”
Andrew Gallix, editor of 3:AM, said: “It’s easier today than [when we launched] in 2000, because online publications are taken far more seriously. Then again, it’s far more difficult for us as there are now hundreds of similar webzines.
“When we started out, webzines were looked down upon in Britain as being second-rate. [But] we’re now assiduously courted by publishers, big and small, especially since the credit crunch (which led them to look for cheaper ways to promote their books).
“The majors, in particular, know that we can give authors credibility, which is something that’s difficult to manufacture,” he added.
Jane Bradbury of For Books’ Sake said that publisher attention had been more noticeable since the site chose to focus exclusively on female writers five months ago.
“Independent and smaller presses have been so much more proactive and supportive,” she said, citing Serpent’s Tail and Pulp Press. “More mainstream publishing houses have mostly ignored us so far (with a couple of exceptions such as Virago).
She added: “Maybe that’s to do with them being much more rambling operations. With smaller publishers, they are usually much more on the ball in terms of monitoring online media, such as Twitter etc, and making mutually valuable connections.”