From time to time in this blog we have sung the praises of Cantara Christopher, a brave and determined supporter of good writing in most of the media, for example through her publishing arm, Cantarabooks. Well, I have to say that Madame has now excelled herself.
Some time ago – I’m afraid it sometimes takes me a while to give things their proper attention – I got an email from Cantara telling me about a new venture of hers. It’s a literary magazine in strictly electronic format: PDF, to be precise. Entitled Cantaraville, it will appear twice a year.
Just as later issues will, the first Cantaraville contains stories, poems, excerpts from novels, and a short memoir. It was this memoir which caught my eye. It’s an account by Manda Djinn of the year when she replaced Bertise Redding as the star of the Folies Bergeres in Paris. Imagine: Manda found herself sitting in the same star dressing room that Josephine Baker had once used. And we learn, not to my surprise, that even in the late 1980s every vocalist except Manda was miming to a tape. Even the tap dancers’ tapping was taped. So much for spontaneity. Anyway, it’s a fascinating read.
Cantaraville has its own extensive web site. Here you can download a free sampler of the first issue; the full works will cost you $4.95. You can also find out how to submit material for future editions. Each issue will, I understand, be sent out free to a large number of editors, reviewers, movie producers and literary agents. At least one contributor has already been contacted by a leading agent (Katherine Fausset of Curtis Brown), and a 17-year-old poet from Tipperary was mentioned by one of the members of the LitBlog Co-op (which is a high-powered NY-based outfit, dedicated to finding the best of contemporary writing).
Meanwhile, in her other areas of interest and activity, Cantara Christopher has been working on a scheme to link new writing with established work of about the same length and general subject matter – a process which she has christened ‘sibling’. First of these sibling pairs is Katherine Mansfield’s In a German Pension, which is available as a free PDF. The availability of the Mansfield work is designed to whet your appetite for Penance, an original novella by Jack Adler.