The Gotham Book Mart (and other notes)

“Whatever happened to Coliseum Books?” This is what I asked the idle teller at Fleet Bank, on the corner of 57th and Broadway, after having not worked in Manhattan the last two years. “As you can see,” she answered, filing her nails, “it’s now a bank. I believe they moved closer to 5th.” And right she was, I learned, after looking them up in the Yellow Pages.

So I went to their new location on 42nd Street and tried to find the wonderful literary magazine bookcase, a source of much inspiration for me several years ago. “We don’t carry as many journals now,” said the man at the information desk, pointing to the far wall. The manager came out a moment later, trying to console me. “Try Gotham Book Mart,” he suggested. “47th between 5th and 6th.”

Walking over there, I quickly scanned the block. This is the heart of New York’s Diamond District. More jewelry stores here than you might see elsewhere in a lifetime. There's one on top of the next, and many have a staff member out on the street telling you what your girl wants for her birthday. That’s all I saw. Window after window of precious metals and stones. I went back to the new and improved Coliseum.

“It’s there, all right. Hang on, I’ll look up the address.” And after a short while I was once again between offers for a gold herringbone necklace and tennis bracelet. But at last, I spotted the book store sign and wandered into the shop.

I met Pynchon in the back room, a tan, fat cat that is extremely quiet and rarely moves. Named after the reclusive author, he seems to stand guard over the rows of literary materials, protecting them. Almost every journal I knew of I found in this back room, oddly occupying only the top row of waist-high bookcases. Many back issues and multiple copies were also on-hand.

Up closer to the register, I thought I’d be sure to see Updike’s latest, just released. It was there, of course, three signed copies.

I’m not quite sure if The Gotham Book Mart is meant to be a best-kept secret among literary types or if it’s been declared a historical landmark by a former mayor. It seems like the only little shop on the long Manhattan block that has nothing to do with jewelry. Was it transplanted here, or did millions of shining clusters grow around it? You could argue The Gotham Book Mart is the biggest gem on the block.  - J Levens

Addendum added 14 August 2004: Please note that the bookshop will move on August 16, 2004 to East 46th Street, between Fifth and Madison.

In happy news, we'd like to congratulate two writers whose short stories appearing in The Summerset Review have received recognition in storySouth's Million Writers Award for best online fiction in 2003. Max Dunbar's story, "The Unrequited," which appeared in our Winter 2003 issue placed in the top ten, and Tony O'Brien's story, "The New Geometry for Girls," which appeared in our Fall 2003 issue made notable mention. Thanks also goes out to Jason Sanford, editor of storySouth for his work running and judging this.

We start off our Spring 2004 issue with Paleolithic sculpture problems, fact and myth about the famous Venus of Willendorf. Gerard Marconi gives us the story of several marriages - a brother's and a sister's - using this as a background in his "The Venus of Wellfleet."

In Jordan Rosenfeld's "That, Not This," a woman wrestles with a decision about the right companion and father, a "quintessential dilemma of procreation," as the protagonist's friend says.

A childhood, told in the form of a list, is what Alan M. Danzis describes in "When I Was a Kid," a short short rendering of, among other things, that certain gap between a mother and a father.

High school students can be quite the characters, and we are reminded of this in Scott Carter's story, "Day One," involving a teacher who recently entered into the profession after changing careers.

We would like to thank, as usual, our contributors and all those who submitted work for consideration in this Spring issue.

We will be present at the CLMP Book Fair in Soho in June. Stop by and visit us to receive your free The Summerset Review bookmark. Visit the CLMP web site for more information on this event when it is made known. Anyone in the New York area having a love of literature should really make an effort to attend; many quality literary magazines and staff members are on hand, and most issues are available for purchase at $2 each. Bring a large backpack!

Joseph Levens – Editor
Amy Leigh Owen – Assistant Editor
S. Malkah Cohen – Assistant Editor
The Summerset Review,  a literary journal of contemporary short stories and essays, is released quarterly on Mar 15, June 15, Sept 15, and Dec 15.

Founded in 2002 and based in New York, the journal is a non-profit, zero-revenue Internet publication devoted to high-quality literary reading, writing, and publishing. We are a member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).

The journal is located at All correspondence and submissions should be emailed to Postal mailing address, should you choose to correspond via hard-copy, is: 25 Summerset Dr., Smithtown NY 11787. Guidelines and recommended reading are on the web site. All material is copyrighted and republication or redistribution should not be done without written permission granted by the originator.

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