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Five Minutes with the Director

[whitespace] An interview with Francis Ford Coppola on the viability of the San Francisco literary scene

One indicator of the attractability of a literary scene is who chooses to become a part of it. Last year, Francis Ford Coppola started a literary magazine in New York for short stories, Zoetrope All Story. In examining the abundance of literary magazines in San Francisco, I thought it was interesting that Coppola chose a city with so much competition and so many popular publications in just about every field imaginable. On closer inspection of the "underground" feel of San Francisco's native (and transplanted) magazines, perhaps it's appropriate that Coppola's Zoetrope, with a virtually unheard of initial press run of 40,000 copies, began in a place where it would fit in with other more mainstream publications.

Given that you have both New York and San Francisco-based operations, what factors, if any, went into deciding to locate Zoetrope All Story in New York over San Francisco?

Coppola: I felt New York was the established literary/publishing center of things. Since we already have offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I felt that New York was where the magazine would have the greatest potential.

Are there specific differences between the literary scenes in each city that influenced your decision on where to locate the magazine?

Coppola: I just felt that New York would maximize our efforts--also, I had previously published a very good magazine in San Francisco (City) and felt that there was a lack of local support for innovative publishing projects. We are doing something unique: Only short stories and in an imaginative and changing format (our use of guest designers), and also supported by an innovative Web site.

What are the chances of persuading you to relocate Zoetrope All Story to San Francisco, where it might add visibility and credibility to a vibrant literary scene that continues to struggle for recognition?

Coppola: Through our San Francisco office we still want to encourage and support the local literary scene.

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From the December 7-20, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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