Volume Two $10
Selected stories and essays from Winter 2007 through Fall 2008 online issues. 150 pages.
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The Summerset Review
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From this volume's Editor's Notes:
It has happened all too often: I'd start reading a story in a literary magazine, and within a page or two whisper to myself, This is going to be good. Three or five or eight thousand words later, after other whispers and gasps and sighs along the way—
Wow, Damn, God—I'd be left with a tear in my eye, knocked dizzy, speechless. I've missed train stations, had meals run cold, and been late for a variety of engagements because of this.
A story causing all the trouble won't always be one that is terribly heart-wrenching. No, it could have been a happy story, and very often is. The prose is what usually gets me, the little things, those that make you stop dead, think, think of some aspect of life, lives like mine or very unlike mine, places I've been to, places I never knew existed, objects, an orange sapphire (weren't all sapphires blue?), a piano in perfect tune and tone never played by its owner. It's like ankles in ice skates; it's like eating peas off a knife.
There's no anticipating how I am going to react, what I will like, what I won't, when I open a literary magazine. Things just happen. I'm a sensitive reader and allow myself to be easily manipulated, suspending my disbelief as if it were a helium balloon, floating, hovering, teetering. Almost always, the stories that have the most impact are penned by writers new to me. They magically appear in these journals for reasons traveling well beyond scientific analysis. How the story got on the page, how the book got into my hands, how the connection is made in my head, these are all things that cannot be explained.
After something like this happens time and time again, you begin to conceive ways of getting more of these stories out there. For every piece having a great effect on a reader, chances are likely another five, ten, or twenty stories are waiting, waiting, waiting, never to be set on a page and exposed on a global stage. Why not? That, I suppose is for another editor's notes page, likely to be a bit ugly.
The overall objective of The Summerset Review is to reach out and provoke that reaction I myself have experienced, in as little as one or two readers who may have innocently stumbled across this journal, persons I do not know. The matter is not at all about money, as was stated in the inaugural online issue in the fall of 2002.
But of course, all of it comes at a cost. The journal receives an average of five submissions a day and we do not solicit. We run no marketing or advertising campaigns because we barely have time to give each story a fair shake, (sometimes two or three shakes), edit, correspond, copy-edit and everything else, all so that we can put online what we believe are five quality pieces each quarter, chosen from the heart.
I don't exactly know how well it is all working. It's not the kind of thing you read about the next morning in the newspapers. Once in a while, though, I will come across that shining submission, a story that would be like one I read in another magazine—ankles in ice skates, peas on a knife—and realize that, no, wait a minute; I am not reading another magazine. The writer is sending the story to me, understands what I am talking about, has had similar things happen on the train, gotten in trouble just as deeply and as often.
What I am really and ultimately after, I suppose, is sweet revenge. I'm tired of cold meals, tired of missing my station, once again late for some other event. It's about time this happen to more people. I'm doing my best to see to that.
The Free Fifty-for-Fifty Reading Contest
Since 2007, we have been offering prize money to the reader who provided the best feedback on a story or essay published in each online issue. As of late 2008, more than four hundred dollars have been awarded to individuals who told us how pieces in The Summerset Review affected them. These and other readers were sent free complimentary issues of Volume One as well.
When this feature was first launched, it was pitched as The Free Fifty-for-Fifty Reading Contest: "Write fifty or more words on a story or essay and you could win fifty dollars," is what we said. We've broken our promise, though. On average, more than fifty dollars per issue have been awarded. Now we are faced with having to reconsider the name of the contest. And this we regret terribly; it has such a nice ring to it.
This contest was launched after discovering that the number of submissions received, and the page-hit count of our Guidelines page, far outweighed unsolicited reader feedback and page-hit counts on story pages. The condition seemed consistent with reports the National Endowment for the Arts has been publishing about a decline of literary reading, as well as research we have been conducting on our own regarding reading habits of the general population.
It is hoped that as this free contest continues in coming quarters, it will inspire people to read more, and raise visibility and awareness of literary magazines in our world and culture.
Below is a list of those readers who received prize money, complimentary print copies, or special mention based on feedback they provided on a story or essay published in The Summerset Review. As editors of the magazine, and as individuals passionate about the work we ultimately choose to publish, we were convinced these people had been deeply moved by the stories and essays put out there, and we're grateful for their contributions, some quite endearing. Details of reader comments are published in each online issue.
Tanaz Bhathena of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Thursday Bram of Laurel, Maryland
B.L. Gifford of Columbus, Ohio
Katherine Gustafson of Washington, DC
Marvin Rabinovitch of Hod Hasharon, Israel
Tammy Raynor of Spokane, Washington
LuAnn Schindler of Ewing, Nebraska
Carly Svamvour of Toronto, Canada
Robin Underdahl of Dallas, Texas
Since 2007, we have also included a discussion question on each piece published in The Summerset Review. See the section later in this volume for more information. You may win a complimentary print issue if you take part.
Many thanks are once again extended to the CLMP and the NYSCA for supporting this journal. Thanks also goes out to the ALSC and the NCTE, organizations who have recognized this journal and given me the opportunity to speak and publish through them on the important topic of Reading in America. Of course, thanks is also owed to the many wonderful readers and all those who have submitted material for consideration. Leigh, thank you for that enviable, keen eye and good humor. My use of 'we' in these editor's notes includes none other than you. And Barbara, thank you for your wisdom, judgment, and patience.
Volume Two cover graphic: Adia Millett, Passing Shadows (chairs), 2006, C-print, 20 x 24 inches. Image appears courtesy of the artist and Mixed Greens.