Established in 1985, the Beloit Fiction Journal has long been a hub for exciting and promising writers, offering year after year of eclectic contemporary short fiction collections. Even better, the journal has been almost entirely run by students, in association with a faculty member, for its entire duration.
Founded by English professor Clint McCown and now edited by English professor Chris Fink, the journal is curated by a group of students, who edit the material, select a cover, and assemble the product for mass consumption.
This year’s edition, Volume 30, was managed by Emmy Newman’17, along with production editors Bonnie Willison’17, Katie Beckman’17, Evangeline Schmidt’18. Chris and Emmy traveled to Washington, D.C., to present the Beloit Fiction Journal at the Associated Writers & Writing Programs conference. In order to have the journal ready for this, the group had to work even harder than in previous years.
“Where most production teams have a month or so to do all the proofing and editing, we had maybe three weeks before we had to get it to the printer,” says Emmy. “A lot of long nights in the BFJ office discussing comma splices and compound adjectives (my new nemeses) but everyone worked really hard, everyone pulled their weight, and I think we even had some fun.”
The end result is a slickly packaged group of 15 stories, varying in tone, content, and style. Emmy highlights the story “Nietzchitis” by Andrew Gretes as a particular highlight.
“It is probably my favorite story this year,” says Emmy. “It handled illness incredibly skillfully. There was nothing saccharine about the main character's declining health juxtaposed with relative youth, and the specifics of the characters painted an engaging picture. The author also changed the ending at a request from Chris and I was impressed with his ability to manipulate the ending after the piece had been submitted.
The journal has already earned acclaim, much of which Chris has enthusiastically shared with the group that edited the journal. One notable letter of praise came from author and professor H.E. Francis, a noted figure in the landscape of short fiction. Francis, who is 93, wrote that he has written and translated more than 200 hundred stories in his lifetime, and is an enthusiast of literary journals. “I have never read one in which every story, as in this number, is a pearl — every one,” Francis wrote in a letter to Chris. “Congratulations to you and your editors for such impeccable discernment, such unflagging taste.”