The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 10, No. 3

My Latest Idea

by Francis Ford Coppola

I first became interested in stories when I was very young—four or five years old—at the introduction of my brother, August. I learned to read from comic books and then went on with my new skill to read all the fairy tales, which I loved: "Rose Red" and "The Tinderbox," "Snow White." The story that fascinated me most, however, was "The Little Mermaid," which I could never put to rest as I could never truly understand the ending—or tell the story with an ending that satisfied me.
     Storytelling grew from a passion to a profession as I became a writer and a filmmaker; and the love of good stories has remained at the heart of my subsequent occupations. In the early 1980s I bought a property in Belize called Blancaneaux because its setting reminded me of those my family and I had found in the Philippines while I was shooting Apocalypse Now. A wine I produce at the Rubicon Estate in the Napa Valley, the Edizione Pennino, honors my grandfather Francesco Pennino, a Neopolitan composer; his songs were set in short plays for the immigrants in New York. The wine's label replicates the logo of his music-publishing firm and—with its parallel images of his native Naples and the Statue of Liberty—tells the story of his immigration to America.
     Perhaps the most obvious example of my love of stories is the magazine you are holding now, Zoetrope: All-Story, which I founded nearly a decade ago to support the best of modern storytelling. I established the magazine under the business name AZX—the AZ reflecting the name of my film company, American Zoetrope, and the X to signify the intention of the magazine: to be perpetually experimental. Over the years, I've tried on occasion to reinvent the magazine with new ideas. In our second year, I introduced the concept of the guest designer, whereby the leading artists of our time—musicians, filmmakers, photographers, painters, architects—were invited to design the magazine. The editors and I have experimented with the content as well, dedicating issues to various unifying themes: utopia, love, foreign affairs, and cinema among them.
     So when I had the idea a year ago to explore, through storytelling, the aspects of life that have most engrossed me—food and wine, art and adventure, my family and my friends—All-Story seemed the ideal vehicle. This special issue is the result of long conversations about what such a magazine might look like, what it might contain.
     We invited writers and artists, chefs and fashion designers to contribute their stories. Chip Kidd was a natural to direct the design of the magazine, given his uncommon talent for encapsulating narratives in his image-making. We gathered together a wonderful collection of short fiction and narrative nonfiction—even recipes, as the great chef Alice Waters interprets three stories through accompanying meals—all presenting the ideals to which I've dedicated my life, and in the form to which I've always returned: the story. This magazine will remain for me an opportunity for artistic risk-taking, a forum for experimentation, justifying both its business name—AZX—and its masthead: All-Story.


To read other stories from the Fall 2006 issue, click here to purchase it from our online store.