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New FREE Literary Rag

San Francisco Reader Kicks Ass

The best thing about the San Francisco Reader is not that it's free, but that's it's excellent. In a town where art has been pushed aside for commerce and where free things have become unknown, the San Francisco Reader is anomalous. A mere 30 pages, one would expect to find it filled with fluff penned by unknowns. Not so.

In addition to regular columns by deposed (but still beloved) Queen of Smut Isadora Alman, panels by evil genius Lynda Barry and Bay Area weirdo Attaboy, the San Francisco Reader features a monthly gallery guide and literary arts calendar, a NYT-quality crossword, features on literature, poetry, music and arts, as well as Mary C. McFadden's monthly feature on Bay Area oddities.

Issue One, published in June 2002, featured poetry by future Bay Area poet laureate Kim Addonizio, fiction and an interview with local literary icon Herbert Gold and an interview with musician Richard Buckner. Issue Two, out in August, proved that some sophomore efforts can be rewarding, featuring an interview with current poet laureate devorah major and an excerpt from the writer's new novel, fiction and an interview with legendary San Francisco poet Leo Litwak and a perky little interview with Zyzzyva publisher Howard Junker. Issue Three, due out September 1, promises to be equally rewarding.

If editor and publisher Jeff Troiano doesn't seem as astonished by the quality of his free publication, it's because he's learned to accept excellence as a standard, using his extensive advertising experience and his publishing chops (Siren, Houston Post Newspaper) to visualize, create and then successfully market his newest creation, a slim, free literary rag aimed at commuters, café dwellers and anyone else interested in the Bay Area arts scene.

Unfazed by the dot-bom, Troiano works full time on the magazine, supporting himself with the incredible advertising base he's built in the last few months. When asked if he was breaking even, Troiano smiled and said, "Well, it's a horrible time to be launching a literary magazine, but it looks like we're going to make it work."

Troiano, a Santa Cruz native, remembers what it was like to visit San Francisco in the early 1980s. The literary community was pulsating, re-emerging from the slight death of the Reagan Years to blossom into a culture nearly as vibrant as it was in the late 50s and early 60s. Now, as commerce has pulled back from the city, Troiano sees San Francisco in another Renaissance period, as artists move back into town and people once again show a serious interest in the arts.

"The whole point of the San Francisco Reader is to help local, Bay Area writers to find a home for their work and develop the current literary community," says Troiano, who publishes several local poets in each issue. He's planning to expand his publication of new voices, including more poetry and short stories.

Those interested in submitting to the magazine should check out its website,, for submission guidelines.

San Francisco Reader
Issue #3 due out September 1
Published & distributed monthly, FREE, to cafés and bookstores
Delivered to your mailbox for $19.95 per year