He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Best Online Literary Magazines

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As literary magazines continue to move from print to online, it’s important to separate the chaff from the wheat. This list attempts to do that.

Below are the online literary magazines that attracted my attention, boast the best names, have the most accomplished stories, showcase the work in outstanding design, and have the best chance of enduring.

It’s that last one which is the hardest to judge and the hardest to accomplish.

I first wrote this list back in 2008, and the field has changed so dramatically that five of the twelve I originally named have closed, and I’m only including three magazines from the original list. That’s the nature of online literary magazines, though. It’s a quick-moving field. Fortunes soar and plunge. Funding splashes in and dries up. Editors have time and then they have … children.

If you’re interested in figuring out what online literary magazines are good, I’d recommend you to pay attention to the Storysouth Million Writers Award.

A team of editors nominates a number of short stories originally published on the web, which are added to by journal editors, which get whittled down to a field of ten, and then it’s a popularity contest, with the general public voting on their three favorite. But the top ten list will give you a great idea of what journals are publishing excellent material.

Also, please check out a separate list: 30 Small But Awesome Literary magazines.

Best Online Literary Magazines:


Best Online Literary MagazinesRecently Annalemma serialized a novel excerpt by Joe Meno of Hairstyles of the Damned fame and The Great Perhaps. They’ve also featured Matt Bell, Jim Ruland, Patrick deWitt, Salvatore Pane, Aaron Burch and Ben Loory, big names all of them. They have artwork to accompany each piece, and a playful approach accompanied by an international outlook.


Best Online Lit MagsHobart has one of the most prolific publishing schedules among literary magazines, publishing fiction, nonfiction, poems and comics on a daily basis. They have a great focus on pop-culture matters, especially their essays, and are less literary than smart populism.


Online Literary Magazine 3Guernica recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, but in the last two years they’ve grown exponentially. They have a strong political bent, and have features as well as the Guernica Daily. The interviews that they conduct frequently are excellent.


Fwriction Lit JournalWork that “melts faces and rocks waffles.” Each week the writer published in Fwriction chooses a song to accompany their fiction, which creates quite an amazing playlist.

Quarterly West

Quarterly West online journalQuarterly West participates in the AWP Intro Journals Project, which publishes the best writing from students enrolled in AWP member programs. They aren’t afraid of lengthy fiction, which can be rarity among online magazines, and also have a novella contest.


Redivider Online MagazineRedivider is a plucky literary magazine out of Emerson College with a website chock full of interesting and useful stuff like fun art and contributor spotlights and a blog. They biannually publish about six stories, the same amount of nonfiction, and poetry. The pace of publication tends to be more along the lines of a print journal rather than the fast twitch speed of online, but the editorial oversight (the masthead is as long as my arm) is a good sign of how hard they’re working on it.


blackbird literary magazineDespite some of the most abysmal response rates to submitters (Duotrope used to rank them among the worst offenders for taking more than year), Blackbird publishes really high quality fiction from established names.


eclectica online magazineDespite the minimalist website (following the early McSweeney’s style), Eclectica publishes marvelous fiction. It’s also not as eclectic as the name would suggest: there’s quite a strong editorial taste running throughout the pieces. As for pedigree, Eclectica was the only journal to be named twice in the top ten of the latest Storysouth Million Writers Award, and tied for the most nominations on the longlist (five, along with Tor.com).

Carve Magazine

Carve Magazine onlineHome of the Raymond Carver Short Story contest, and with a name inspired by the minimalist master himself, the journal likes the laconic, stripped-down prose that falls under the Carver umbrella. They also won the 2014 Million Writers Award, and have received special mentions by the Pushcart prize.

Five Chapters

imgresI love the concept of Five Chapters — serializing each story across the five weekdays, Monday to Friday. They started a publishing arm as well, showcasing short story collections like Jess Row’s “Nobody Ever Gets Lost.”


AGNI online magAGNI used to limit their fiction to under 4,000 words, but they’ve lifted that restriction and started to print lengthier fiction. With such a print magazine pedigree, their online presence was grandfathered into greatness, and the bi-weekly fiction and poetry has consistently delivered. They also pay, which is wonderful.


PANK-10-Cover-magentaPank is the brainchild of Roxane Gay, who has rocketed to fame the last two years with Bad Feminist and An Untamed State. They also have a publishing arm, Tiny Hardcore Press. Like several of the magazines here, they publish both an online and print version. The flavor of the stories tends toward the brutally honest, with experimental prose and form.


urlTaking its name from the Samuel Beckett quote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” Failbetter showcases a variety of fiction, poetry and art, some of which you can get through their monthly newsletter.


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One thought on “Best Online Literary Magazines

  1. Would you consider The Summerset Review for your best online list? We have been around since 2002 and have never gone on hiatus, never released an issue late, do not have a submission fee nor ads, and have won awards such as Pushcart, PEN America, Best American, etc. We do not solicit and have no slush pile.