Opening a 'Cracked Eye': The short and the short of it


In short: Another online literary journal enters a crowded field

A very crowded field. In fact, there are now so many books — and so many journals and magazines of fiction and other writings — that a new one based in London is banking on “short” as the ace up its sleeve. Short. As in short reads, videos, audio, comics. This could be the beginning of the great compression.

In late November, as the ebook subscription venture Oyster was announcing its new online literary journal, The Oyster Review, another, quieter launch was under way.

Cracked Eye now is into its second edition — “The Blindfolded Bunny Issue.”

And the first tale it tells lies in its busy table of contents, which includes:

  • At least five offerings listed as stories, from writers Stephen Pollock, Seth Insua, Andrea Long, R.G. McKay Ireland, and Michael Carey.
  • An interview with the artist Joshua Sylvia, who provided the bunny of the month. (Eat your heart out, Playboy.)
  • A “film of the month” by Sameer Patel.
  • An interview with the author Insua, who in addition to the story “A Thief on the Titan” is also responsible for a comic, “Commuters” — described as “our monthly journey through the perils of the daily commute” — and also for a graphic novel, Anna the Knight, the second part of which appears in this issue.
  • A “quick tale” by Gus Lewis, and a “quick video” without attribution.
  • A “Horror-Scope” piece by Mark Ayling, termed “an unofficial ghost story.”
  • Another comic, this one by Leo Saysays.
  • An audio story by Ron Mace.

This is, by any standard, a lot of material, if short material, an ambitious offering. Cracked Eye goes for a monthly subscription of £4.99 (US $7.75), and it also offers individual pieces, most for £0.99 each (US $1.50).

Like Day One, Cracked Eye offers a 30-day free trial. Day One is Amazon’s weekly literary journal — $1.59 per month.

Also like Day One, Cracked Eye is actively looking for content — and pays writers. Devised as an app for Android and iOS — “and soon to be accessible on laptops and desktops” — it’s handsomely and cleverly designed, a thoughtful production with a lot of work behind it.

In fact, the serial titled The Brinkmeyers, another ongoing element of the new magazine, is the work of Cracked Eye’s creator, Michael Cameron.

“A digital package…the word I’m trying to avoid is ‘publishing.”‘

Is this not a great deal of content for a monthly online periodical, I ask Cameron?

“Well, yes,” he says with a rueful laugh. “It is a great deal of content” Its interest for him, however, is in the amalgam. “And the way it came about is that I’d been toying with publishing short stories for a couple of years.”

Michael Cameron
Michael Cameron

Cameron is based in Farnham and has a background in theater, television, and radio. He was in BBC TV’s drama department in the 1980s, became a full-time freelance writer, and was co-owner of Talisman Productions, which produced a film for Channel 4 in 1984. His Flying Dutchman studios, originally developed to support voice-over artists, supplied radio commercials to Jazz FM, Kiss FM, and Choice FM, and other independent radio stations, as well as providing supplies and production work for BBC Radio. His 2007 book with Sean Hogan, In Harm’s Way, was published by Random House’s Arrow.

Cracked Eye is an imprint of Cameron’s 2012 venture, The Other Publishing Company, Ltd. And the man is as affable a conversationalist as you might hope would be behind such an ambitious outing. He tilts at this digital-literary-magazine windmill with a wry awareness of its challenges and a keen interest in its potential. As he puts it:

We could merge video, we could merge audio, we could merge writing, and produce a magazine that offered all these things. If we could put them together as a digital package, we might have something that was right for the time, right for the current market.

“The more I’ve thought about it” Cameron tells me, “the more I’ve thought there’s a market here. We commute, we’re traveling on a train, on the Underground or subway, people are using their iPads, their smartphones…people have their earphones on their heads. Why can’t we give this to people who might find a long book too long?”

Ironically, at a time of much talk of “long-form” and its attractions for readers online, Cameron is, actually, talking short-form.

“The word I’m trying to avoid is ‘publishing,'” he says, another laugh catching up with him. “I don’t really know what it means, ‘publishing.’ I think that more and more, it’s all about production. It’s about broadcasting. I just saw that we could merge audio, video, the written word, illustrations — all in one package,” and in one package expressly designed for the mobile market.

 Read More

By Porter Ander­son

The FutureBook: Opening a ‘Cracked Eye’: The Short and the Short of It

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