Friday, November 4, 2011


E. Ethelbert Miller asks: "Your story 'Kwoon' was published in Playboy magazine in 1993. Did you ever have second thoughts about publishing in this magazine?

This is a question we can dispatch pretty quickly.
The answer is, no. Only one person other than Ethelbert has ever asked me this question since "Kwoon" was published. I can't defend Hugh Hefner for producing a salacious publication that exploits and objectifies women's bodies. But I'm not a prude. Nor am I especially politically correct. Furthermore, "Kwoon" is about the martial arts, not sex, and has a conclusion that is spiritual, one that dramatizes Buddhist Dharma. Since the 1950s, Playboy magazine has employed editors who have very good taste in fiction. It also pays its writers and cartoonists top dollar for their work. 
Take a look at the book Playboy Stories: The Best of Forty Years of Short Fiction, edited by Alice K. Turner (Dutton, 1994). The writers included in this volume are James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, John Cheever, Nadine Gordimer, John Irving, Norman Mailer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jay McInerney, Joyce Carol Oates, Phillip Roth, John Updike, Nelson Algren, Charles Beaumont, Jorge Luis Borges, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ray Bradbury, Robert Coover, Andre Dubus, Bruce Jay Friedman, John Gardner, Herbert Gold, Joseph Heller, Shirley Jackson, Charles Johnson, James Jones, Ursula K. Le Guin, Bernard Malamud, Richard Matheson, Thomas McGuane, Bharati Mukherjee, Haruki Murakami, Vladmir Nabokov, Sean O'Faolin, Irwin Shaw, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Paul Theroux, and James Thurber.
If one publishes a story in a magazine with a track record of featuring the work of outstanding authors such as those in the above paragraph, what is there to have second thoughts about?

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