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Esquire's Cocktail Party: Stories Written on Napkins

Daily News

Online Only, posted 1.29.07

The February issue of Esquire includes nine short stories handwritten on five-inch square cocktail napkins. The stories, chosen for both quality and legibility, were part of a magazine feature called the Napkin Project, in which two hundred and fifty fiction writers were asked to submit a story written on a napkin imprinted with the Esquire logo. The magazine sent napkins to the writers last August and received nearly eighty submissions, including stories by Daniel Alarcón, Aimee Bender, Kevin Brockmeier, Ron Carlson, A. M. Homes, and Christopher Sorrentino.

The project is part of Esquire’s renewed commitment to publishing short fiction. Last October, editor in chief David Granger hired contributing editor Tom Chiarella as the new fiction editor and announced that the magazine would publish twice as many original stories in 2007 as were published in 2006. The seventy-three-year-old monthly magazine has published stories by fiction writers Raymond Carver, Vladimir Nabokov, Antonya Nelson, Flannery O'Connor, and David Foster Wallace.

Images of the submissions—as well as easier-to-read typescripts of the text—can be viewed on the magazine's Web site.

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Author Jen Michalski takes us on a tour of the many literary sites writers should visit while strolling the gritty streets of Baltimore.

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