Over the weekend, I found out how timely my recent Jack Kerouac post was when I stumbled over a notice at Flavorwire announcing that the legendary counterculture magazine Evergreen Review was about to undergo a 21st century reboot. Here’s the word…
One of the most influential and essential American literary publications will return to readers after a long hiatus. Today it was announced that Evergreen Review, the longtime project of storied editor and publisher Barney Rosset (who passed away in 2012), will return in a partnership with the independent publisher OR Books. The joint venture will bring Evergreen’s properties — including titles by Samuel Beckett and Marguerite Duras — under the management of OR’s innovative direct-to-consumer publishing model.
Evergreen began in 1957 as a quarterly distributed in the form of trade paperbacks. Its first issue, a harbinger of what would follow for two decades, featured Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and an interview with Jazz drummer Baby Dodds. The second issue showcased a pre-On the Road Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder, among many others.
The Review would go on to become the premier publisher of countercultural literature in the United States. Among the epic catalog of writers it launched or helped establish: Susan Sontag, Jean Genet, Ocatavio Paz, Robert Coover, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, and William S. Burroughs, whose Naked Lunch was first excerpted in its pages.
Music, politics, sex, and art were also widely represented by Evergreen. Gerald Ford famously maligned the magazine on the floor of Congress for printing the likeness of Richard Nixon next to a nude photo. And the Review’s offices were bombed in 1968, after issue #51’s cover, which featured a portrait of Che Guevara, infuriated anti-Castro Cubans.
OR also announced today that it will publish Barney Rosset’s autobiography, The Subject Is Left Handed, in winter of 2016. Rosset, born in Chicago, is remembered as one of the most active and important editors and publishers in the history of American letters. He is perhaps most famous for publishing the uncensored versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Tropic of Cancer. Both publications led to protracted legal battles that placed obscenity and censorship at the center of literary discourse.
Celebrating the return of ER, here’s Jack Kerouac’s classic poem “October in the Railroad Earth” which was published in the second, Beat-oriented issue of Evergreen Review‘s original run…