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“These regular anthologies ... are becoming essential volumes for fans of short fiction.”

— Scott Pack

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Two issues of Slightly Foxed

I’ve been meaning to post something about Slightly Foxed for a while now, but something kept getting in the way. Since getting Various Authors off to the printers, I’ve had a little more time, and finally found the chance to open their Spring 2011 issue, no. 29.

Literary publications can approach their content in one of two ways: they can provide a range of essays, fiction, and poetry (Stinging Fly, The Paris Review, Granta etc.), or they can specialise, aiming to do one thing well. For The Fiction Desk’s anthology series, I decided to focus only on short stories. On the other hand, Slightly Foxed prints nothing but concise, personal essays about old books, both classics and forgotten gems.

Volume 29 contains 17 essays on titles as diverse as The Phantom Tollbooth and On The Origin of Species. They’re very well crafted, personal essays, of the sort that we encounter (and in my case, write) all too rarely on book blogs. The editors actually describe the content very well on their own website:

Slightly Foxed is more like a bookish friend, really, than a literary periodical. Companionable and unstuffy, each quarter it offers 96 pages of personal recommendations for books of lasting interest, old and new. It’s an eclectic mix, covering all the main categories of fiction and non-fiction, and our contributors are an eclectic bunch too. Some of them are names you’ll have heard of, some not, but they all write thoughtfully, elegantly and entertainingly.

The cumulative effect is that of visiting the best kind of used book shop, where you spend all day hanging around, talking to everybody that comes in and leaving with an armful of books. In fact, the publishers of Slightly Foxed do also have a bookshop, Foxed Books. I was in there once, a long time before I’d read the quarterly, and liked it very much.

The books themselves are beautifully produced, with very nice paper used throughout: the feel of each edition is more than enough to justify the relatively high price tag (a four-volume subscription costs £36). As you can see from the picture above, they also put a great deal of care and thought into the packaging.

As well as the quarterly, there’s a series of attractive limited edition reprints of lost or forgotten works, known as Slightly Foxed Editions.

All in all, Slightly Foxed is a must-read for literature lovers. Try it at least once, or you’ll never know what you’re missing out on.

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