The highbrow German literary mag Literaturen (print) is scaling down, from ten to six issues a year and from four to two editors. And just when I'd sort of stood next to one of them, Jörg Magenau, and decided he was an OK kinda guy, he's out on his ear. It seems readers don't want to buy it in huge numbers and publishers don't want to advertise in it for huge sums. The magazine relaunches in October, with some sort of high-culture internet platform by the name of Kultiversum to accompany it. Sad.
Another struggling literature project, Lettra, has found a straw to clutch at though. They do little films about books plus other content and will soon be working with a national network of newspapers to offer lit-related videos on newspaper websites. What jumps out at me on their site right now, though, is all the "0 Kommentar(e)".
And Bolano fans have started up their own interactive reading project: zwei666. Closely modelled on unendlicherspass.de, which is closely modelled on infinitesummer.org. Only the Bolano project allows readers 2666 hours to read 2666 and seems to be run by the writer Marvin Kleinemeier. The plan appears to be to offer a more open forum for bloggers and readers in general; sadly (as far as I can tell) without the participation of Bolano's translator Christian Hansen - a man with a great deal to say about his authors and translation in general. The fun starts on 7 September.
I've been following the unendlicherspass project from afar, and am actually rather impressed. It's an interesting mix of serious criticism, actual discussion - including a few tentative examinations of the translation - and subjective writing about the experience of reading the book. The list of contributors is growing, with more writers and just-plain-readers on it, although not all of them have posted yet. And people really are commenting, often arguing their own points or complaining at the style of the posts.
So does all this mean literary discussion is becoming more open in Germany? Are we moving away from the front-of-class reviews on paper format to online forums and other forms of content? But who's going to pay for it? I for one don't want to do without critics with credentials, and I'm actually on the side of those who suggest we start - gasp - paying for quality journalism on the internet, in some form or another. Because I'd like to think there's room for both - serious criticism that packs a punch, and interactive stuff with Facebook fan groups.