I first learned about Granta by way of much less lauded publications. Not long after an announcement that Playboy lost $3.1 million in the Spring quarter of 2008, the Onion published this news in one of its daily features, American Voices, and one of the opinions read:
"Yeah, with the Internet, now everyone can just go to Granta Online and read quality essays for free."
-Lee Chong, Deck Crew: The Onion May 27th, 2008
"What is Granta?" I heard my mind ask. Good essays, high quality writing, free? As I've used Everything2 I find myself in need of a fine piece of writing every now and again, to get the creative juices flowing. So I went and found the website and quickly found myself addicted. Granta is indeed putting its 30 years of essays and new fiction online and has about 40 or 50 pieces online already. Good fiction that draws one in and interesting and important non-fiction to make you think. In the course of a few hours I was browsing it at work like Matt Boyd and the Arbor Day website.
As it is free and will, for quite some time, continue to grow and produce content that has otherwise been given only to those who buy the quarterly, it should be required reading for anyone doing serious writing. A resource of finely crafted prose. You can name virtually any good British writer and find some of their work in the archives: Ian McEwen, Zadie Smith, Iain Banks.
Since 1979 Granta has issued 102 volumes. One for almost every season over the past 30 years. Each tapping the nerves of modern literature for the latest sensations, the latest thrills of travel. The major goal of Granta is to use the story, the narrative, to create a picture of the world that is the pinnacle of clarity and fidelity. As this is the case they only accept realistic fiction. But this is only a small constraint as the subject of the magazine is able to encompass all that is. Granta's declared interest is forming a body of work that will be remembered and re-read countless times for the benefit of being a crisp picture of the present and presenting the ideas about a subject as clearly as possible as they are seen today. Generally not academic topics but of serious academic interest. China and Africa and the Caribbean are not simply travel destinations but places that are currently very interesting politically and socially. Some of the most interesting writing in Granta is about the situation that people experience in toto.
Everything2 should read Granta, because both sites have similar goals. Possibly even some similar contributers. Both have the purpose of displaying on the internet, in words, what the world is. So I believe some cross talk is inevitable.