Welcome to a quick history
of the semi-literary website known as Eyeshot's Hindenburg Complex of
Infidels & Crusaders
("Eyeshot.net" or "Eyeshot," for short). A
few things inspired our "launch" in August 1999:
1) An article by Vince Passaro in
said "With the Internet comes the possibility of such an inexpensive distribution
system of large blocks of language that writing essentially will become
volunteer work, and similiarly oriented toward triage for victims of our
2) Circa 1998/99, the good-natured
awesomeness of our experience with the saintly people at The
Barcelona Review, our correspondence, translation, and publication
on one of the earliest/best lit sites, amazed us. (All this relatively
new internet stuff seemed really cool at the time -- revolutionary
was a not uncommon word used with regard to its potential.)
3) A lot of semi-crappily conceived,
unattractively named conventional sites at the time seemed to ape well-established
print journals that consistently (and, in retrospect, quite rightfully)
rejected the Eyeshot editor's early submissions. And even some of the less-pukey
conventional sites, like the now-defunct Blue
Moon Review, repeatedly rejected our shit. And so we reduced the then-unbridgeable
aesthetic distance between editor and writer by submitting our stories
to our own site and then accepting them (though please realize that we
didn't bother sending submissions and acceptance letters to and from ourself,
largely because we're not insane). And we ultimately tried to make a place
that used the medium to its advantage, offering rolling posts instead of
so-called "old-media issues."
So, in sum thus far: some
writer/reader dude in his mid-to-late 20s, a loser who'd worked in an antiquarian
bookstore for $7/hr and had just started working as a medical editor, this
wannabe schlub who couldn't get his stuff published anywhere, started a
lit site. And then he populated the site with his own unpublishable stories,
attributed to pseudonyms. Before too long, uninspiring submissions rolled
in, with the occasional story that made it all worthwhile. He continued
to post his own oft-rejected stories under ridiculous pseudonyms, and short9oddities
that could only be posted online (and only if the editor and writer were
one and the same).
A move to Brooklyn in August 2000,
plus the very important arrival of a digital camera, helped particularize
and prettify the site's very simple design (a hybrid of Suck.com
and the original framed look of Ubu.com).
Despite the simplicity, we've always wanted things to seem intentionally
labyrinthine in terms of navigation.
So now what? Oh boy! Life
in the big city! NYC feted our undernourished consciousness with certain
cultural events, for example an early McSweeney's
reading and an after-hours Will
Oldham show. And then things started to take off in the summer of 2001
when we posted a very popular piece about
Writers and Their Hair soon after a bawdy interview (that's recently
been removed) with a very flexible man. Then the oddities we posted got
as a crew of youngish writer types, many inspired by the humorous heydey
of McSweeneys.net, started
submitting postable stuff.
Did the Eyeshot editor try to differentiate
Eyeshot from the previously mentioned site? He did. (That little Q&A
just then was a little joke related to a syntax trend at the turn of the
century that derived from the aforementioned popular site.) Maybe for a
while a few hundred people who were "into" offbeat literary websites might
have thought of Eyeshot as the perverted alternative to the previously
mentioned, extraordinarily more popular site -- a site that at the time
inspired (or influenced or spurred or in some way was related to, or at
least seemed always in the mix somehow or a dominant domain to consider
if starting a new lit site etc) the creation of sites and print journals
that lived for a while and then either:
1) Died a quick death like the American
Journal of Print, Reinventing the World, or Facsimilation
2) Lingered lovingly then expired
like Haypenny, (Parenthetical Note), Dicey Brown,
Sweet Fancy Moses, Surgery of Modern Warfare, Pig Iron Malt, Bullfight,
Somewhat, Absinthe Literary Review, Taint Magazine, and finally after
a long good fight, Pindeldyboz.
3) Or have somehow sort of humbly
and awesomely beat on against the endless current of blogs, youtubes, social-networking
hubs etc, such as Hobart,
Opium, or the
slightly later Yankee
4) There was also a later wave of
kindred sites, some still operational or at least still accessible, created
and run by contributor friends, such as Duck and Herring,
Engine Literary Review, Lamination
Colony, and Pequin.
5) And King Wenclas and the Underground
Literary Alliance were always
around for us to muss
Whew. Lots of sites. (So sad that
most of those sites in italics above, if you enter their old URLs in a
browser, now lead to weird generic pages offering debt consolidation --
if not something more hardcore, as expected, like sites loaded with links
to unicorn porn).
And of course there were other sites sort of unrelated to these (like Failbetter,
and others not necessarily unknown to us (though more or less forgotten),
and some may even still exist . . .
Please remember that you're reading
the history of Eyeshot, and that we're talking about the history of literary
sites from our POV, as opposed to that of, for example, webdelsol.com,
which has always been around and which linked to Eyeshot early on, thereby
amazing us by officially recognizing us. But what's cool, we think, is
that all these sites -- related or not, still alive or not -- were part
of the first, real, semi-communal wave of using this thing called the internet
to post writing that was generally accessible, admirably amateurish, often
bawdy/humorous, and sometimes even unexpectedly inspired.
So then what happened?
Around 2002, blogging became popular!
Eyeshot contributor Lindsay
Robertson's blog was
voted best in NYC by the Village Voice!
Eyeshot contributor Maud
Newton created her seminal
Chicago blogger Zulkey
got with our first literary
Even Neal Pollack started blogging
(we won't get into the Yankee Pot Roast/Neal Pollack online roast fiasco
. . . ).
And as the trend turned toward blogging,
excitement re: the creation and upkeep of silly lit sites seemed to steadily
ebb . . .
But, seriously, for a time there
really had been a sense of excitement about all this online lit shit! A
community of recognizable names contributed to a handful of sites and everyone
e-mailed each other and met in person and made babies or got married and
some have been together ever since.
We helped this along best we could
with our literary escort
service. But other than acting as a textual vehicle for heterosexual
sex, Eyeshot in particular ebbed and flowed, offering:
Several volumes of rejection
A hugely successful Silent
Reading or two in
series of stories that are 1000 words about a picture
dozen (hundreds?) of pieces contributed by writers from all over the
world, including a poet in the
Egyptian Army and a kiwi.
Something we posted even won the
storySouth Million Writers Award for Fiction.
There was a Drachen
Fliegen epoch, a Jamie
Allen epoch, a Steve
Delahoyde epoch, a Donnie
Boman epoch. Ginny
Wray died. And every once in a while in the summer and around Xmas,
we posted nothing. All this
(and way more) happened before 2004.
But then . . .
In 2004, the Eyeshot editor moved
to Iowa City to attend a graduate program, where it was rumored that he
would learn to write creative fiction, or at least chill for two years
and watch a lot of baseball and Bergman and Herzog movies. Despite all
the time graduate school provided, natural inertia and Midwestern ennui
(especially compared to all that old-fashioned energy of NYC) and other
mysterious forces teamed up to decrease the frequency of Eyeshot's postings!!!
Slower times in Eyeshotville . . . But we showed heart! We never quit.
We offered correspondence
from distant lands. We experienced a tornado.
And we celebrated the passing of a
master writing teacher.
In 2006, we resituated Eyeshot operations
. . . Things continued to move along relatively stably, if still comparatively
slowly, at a pace of about one new posting a month.
In late 2008, we had a burst of e-enthusiasm,
adding the Readerly Resonance
Chamber and a collection
of well-liked posts.
In 2009, Roderic Crooks's "Fuckbuddy"
took second place for the 2008
Million Writers Award, and on July 23, almost exactly ten years after
we conceived the site, we decided
to stop reading submissions and posting short fiction so Eyeshot might
evolve or dissolve.
In August 2009, we started posting
a few things but not exactly like some efffin' blog, thank you.
And then in October 2009, we started
reading submissions again and posting new contributions.
In January 2010, we called it
quits again in terms of reading submissions.
But then, in June 2010, we started
reading submissions and on July
4, 2010, we started doing bimonthly "issues" featuring one story and
We stopped reading submissions again
in late November 2010. But then in December 2010 we started doing something
different and undefined that vaguely felt like the good old days when ye
olde internet love was new.
In mid-to-late February 2011, we
reopened submissions -- but not electronic (e-mail) submissions: you had
to send a postcard with your e-mail address and as much of the story as
you can fit on it. This
actually worked for a bit. We also outsourced our daily archiving,
announcements, and general evangelical activities to a site called Twitter
but then thought that was idiotic and deleted our account.
On October 26, 2011, we reopened
electronic submissions and decided to try to put some energy into creating
a safe online space for spastic semi-literary texts.
On April 21, 2012, we closed submissions
again (this time forever!). Again, we figured the site would continue (maybe
through solicitations or editor-provided posts etc) but we wouldn't read
contributions from strangers.
But then on July 21, 2012,
we decided to open submissions
again. WTF not.
And then on August 25, 2014, we decided to call
it quits for good, once and for all. For real this time . . .
Eyeshot has always been solely owned
and operated by one
guy (but not this guy).
If you would like to make contact or register complaints or send some
ecards via electronic mail, the address is lee at eyeshot.net.
As always, please print everything
and send links to people who'd trot all hot for what we got, but please
realize that all text and images are owned by their creators.
Here's the complete
archive and here are some books