There's a lot behind that 5-ball. Five years of short fiction and essays, artwork, interviews, a print issue. Five years of reading diligently, never going on hiatus, responding to submissions as quickly as possible and never losing them (well, O.K., we lost two), releasing unfailingly on the fifteenth of each month the seasons change. We've even instituted a contributor compensation package—our Pizza and Wine Stipend of twenty-five dollars. Hey, it's better than nothing!

Some very nice things came back our way during this time, ranging from awards garnered by individual pieces to simple, friendly emails from readers. We could have included some of these here if we wanted, but thought as an alternative, to cite the negative. In the five years of our existence there was only once instance where someone spoke ill, to our knowledge. Only one. In our second issue, our Editors' Notes mentioned a place where John Cheever did much of his writing. We were astonished some of the world's finest literature was borne from an apartment building in Manhattan that appeared ordinary, in our words, "a boring, tasteless box of dirty brown brick." Well, a resident of the building evidently read what we said and did not like it: "And where do you live? Park Avenue?"

As you probably have read in many places recently—the most significant of which might be the report "Reading at Risk" from the National Endowment for the Arts, released several years ago—literary reading has been on a declining rate these years. Rather than go into a diatribe on the issues with mass-marketing, distributors, major booksellers and publishers, we want to simply say that many readers the world over are missing out on the material in contemporary literary vehicles, including journals (both in print and online), short story and essay collections, and contemporary novels. We believe that many more readers would appreciate these great stories if the material was more visible and accessible.

We urge you to do what you can to make the awareness of literary writing more prominent in your world. Start small. Start with the pieces you see right here, or those you see listed in our Recommended Reading List, or those journals—however few there are—in your local library or bookstore. Tell friends, tell colleagues, start a literary reading club...


In conjunction with our five-year anniversary, and to help address our concern above, we are introducing two new quarterly features in The Summerset Review, both targeted at readers.

First, we are launching a free Fifty-for-Fifty Contest. Write the best fifty words or more on a story or essay in the current issue, and win fifty dollars plus a copy of Volume One. Yes, that’s right. We are now  paying you to read us. Silly, huh? We don’t think so. By offering this prize competition, we hope to increase the awareness and appreciation of literary magazines in our world and culture. Rules for entry are given in our Guidelines page.

We are also introducing a short list of discussion questions for readers. These probe into the stories and essays in the current issue, to get you thinking. Have a look, but make sure you've read the story first. If you set up that literary reading club, or are already a part of one, discuss the points. Send us your answers to all questions and you will be eligible for a complimentary issue of Volume One. Details are in our Questions for Reader Groups page.


Our Lit Pick of the Quarter feature continues into year five with a short story in the Spring 2007 issue of The Florida Review. We found the voice in "Divining Venus," by Mary Elizabeth Pope, to be incredibly engaging, at times witty and funny, at times bringing in sentiment from out of nowhere. The protagonist and her friend Venus are sixth grade girls from very different families, laying out the ouija board, talking about their lives and the lives of others.

Here is one of our favorite lines from the middle of the piece:

It turns out that you don't have to be married to have a baby at all.

And here is a longer excerpt:

I guess you've just got to figure things out on your own, which is not that easy to do when Venus said she hated Kyle Kellerman but liked him all along, and Larry seemed so in love with Charlene but ran off with Tiffany instead. Even the things inside your own self are kind of a mystery if I can adore Venus one minute and ruin her hat the next, or hate my parents most of the time but feel so jealous of the fuss they make over Venus. But then I think about how Charlene smiles whenever this plumber named Frank stops by, and how Kyle Kellerman says he likes me even though Venus is prettier, and I decide maybe it's okay that what seems obvious isn't always right, like the night we drove home from spring break and my father said my mother had a lead foot, so my mother said my father had a big mouth, but when I reached over the front seat to grab a pillow it turned out they'd been holding hands the whole time.


The Summerset Review
 
Joseph Levens - Editor
Amy Leigh Owen – Assistant Editor
 
A literary journal released quarterly on the 15th of March, June, September, and December on the Internet, and periodically in print form. Founded in 2002, the journal is devoted to the review and publication of unsolicited short stories and essays.

All correspondence and submissions should be emailed to editor@summersetreview.org. Postal mailing address: 25 Summerset Drive, Smithtown, New York 11787, USA.

This publication is made possible, in part, with grants from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), a state agency. We are very thankful for the support and encouragement these organizations have given our journal and the literary community.

The Summerset Review is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, incorporated in New York State.

ISSN 1933-7175

Theme graphics: "Five" Copyright © The Summerset Review, Inc. 2007.