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Sweet Fancy Moses: Old Journal, New Twist

There is a literary re-birth going on in the Film and Electronic Arts Department with the re-emergence of the world-renowned journal Sweet Fancy Moses, supervised by Brian Alan Lane who joined the department in 2002.

Sweet Fancy Moses had built a reputation since its founding seven years ago as a hard print contemporary journal of wit with a supplemental online presence. But since Lane took over as publisher in 2005, it has focused solely on literary fiction – short stories of all genres – tapping into writers and material worldwide.

“We’re branded now as a hardcore cool literary journal with incredible graphic art and design,” said Lane, an active member of the PEN USA literary organization and bestselling author himself.

“There is no favored nations pile for best-selling authors,” he said, noting that the new journal has an appetite for excellence over status. “Everybody goes in the slush and everybody gets read blindly by our editors.”

Available through the department, the CSULB Bookstore, and booksellers worldwide, the journal is meant to make readers out of an iPod generation.

“People actually like to read but they don’t have time to focus because they’re so busy multi-tasking so they just read whatever goes down quickest and then they quickly find themselves unable to tell the difference between good writing and bad,” he said. “But the short story may be the key to the survival of literacy. Great short stories provide all the thrills and spills and chills of visual media, and, although they require your attention, they don’t tear you away from everything else you’re doing. Even better, short stories require your emotional complicity in easy bite-sized portions. You often feel manipulated when you watch TV, but you gladly bring the truth of yourself to a literary short story, and you take away so much more. It’s entertainment, but it’s entertainment that matters.”

Student feedback has been positive – students learn writing, adaptation, editing, publishing, marketing – the realities of the literary marketplace. Worldwide, the professional literary acclaim has shocked even the usually unflappable Lane.

“From Ron Claiborne on ‘Good Morning America’, to Oscar-winning writer/producer Bobby Moresco from ‘Crash’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ to award-winning novelist Diana Wagman, award-winning novelist/playwright/screenwriter William Link, reviews in the East Bay Express and in The Advocate, and praise from numerous other writers and reviewers, our current Sweet Fancy Moses, Book II has been a grand slam home run,” said Lane. “And the icing on this very large cake is that L.A.-based artist and graphic designer Wendy Furman created the look of the journal and then culled the best artwork from major L.A.-area artists and galleries, including some artists on the CSULB faculty. The result is that this is really the first literary journal that is a complete and unique work of art. I am as proud of the look of the journal as I am of the writing.”