reviewed by Tom Hartman

Published in Issue No. 44 ~ January, 2001

Originally added as a sort of postscript to Andrew L. Wilson’s generally excellent
Linnaean Street but soon getting
a home of its own at (Jan. 10th), Gargoyle is something
of an anomaly. Because the bulk of its content is delivered via links to other
sites, it certainly can’t be classed as a ‘zine along the lines of, say, The
Cortland Review
or Slope. On the other hand, to call it a links page would be
like calling Georges Perrier a cook or the Audi TT a sub-compact. Gargoyle is
more ambitious, more organic — the product of considerable and obvious
editorial effort. is quite a new animal altogether: a sort of serial content aggregator,
but with a modicum of original content added to the mix. Wilson himself describes
the site (which, prior to Jan. 10th, can be accessed by clicking the gargoyle
photo at the bottom of Linnaean Street’s main page), as “a daily broadside of
arts and letters.” In keeping with that description, Gargoyle is updated each
day with new links, along with one or two “features” (poems, stories or “odds
and ends” selected from submissions) that may run for as long as a week. Like
Linnaean Street itself, Gargoyle‘s design has been marked by an understated,
19th-century Euro elegance: from the faded postcard image of its namesake, sitting
head in hands and sticking his tongue out at Paris below, to the faintly speckled
off-white background and serifed fonts.

The site’s signature look, however, is in no way suggestive of its content.
In fact, the editors’ tastes are about as eclectic as they come, ranging from
literary golden oldies like Swift (“A Digression in Praise of Digressions”)
to Voltaire (Candide) to Rimbaud (“The Drunken Boat”) to brand-new work
from both knowns and unknowns. The Nov. 4th edition, for instance — a
particularly good one (now housed in the archive) — includes links to
Catherine Daly’s delightful “poster” of poems from Mudlark 27, Timothy Russell’s
“Japaniad,” the story of his 1999 journey to Japan as the winner of the 4th
Shiki Internet Haiku Contest, and Jim Ruland’s blackly hilarious “Uh Oh, Hat
Girl” (from Exquisite Corpse).

To uncover such disparate gems, Wilson and fellow editor Bob Thurber must be
surfing constantly. More than that, the duo have proved themselves more than
able to spot treasure — like Jason Marks’s photo essay “Elena in Cars,”
(just one of many goodies on Marks’s homepage — in the midst
of the Web’s flotsam and jetsam. Whatever you call Gargoyle — ‘zine, links
page, Wilson and Thurber’s personal literary wunderkammer — it’s
a welcome addition to the world of online letters and as good a place as there
is to discover quality writing.

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Tom Hartman has been a regular contributor to Pif since 1999. He lives in Philadelphia.