The New England Review has been one of my favorite litmags ever since the day back in 1998 when in their pages I discovered a fantastic, moving, very funny story by Nicola Mason called "The Lizard Man of Lee County." At that point I hadn't published a single story, and was starting to wonder if the fact that I couldn't land any of the stories that I'd meant to be both funny and moving meant that such stories couldn't be landed. Turns out, they can: mine just weren't funny and/or moving and/or good enough, and Mason was the proof. Which meant that it was okay for me to keep trying.
And to keep submitting stories to The New England Review, of course. For years it was a series of kind but firm rejections from rock-star editor Jodee Stanley, who's now holding the fiction reins at Ninth Letter (for which she has taken a story or too.) Then Stephen Donadio and Carolyn Kuebler took over at NER. They took a story back in 2005, and, I'm pleased to report, have now taken another: "[Exeunt." is now out and about in Volume 28, Number 1, along with other fiction by Stephen Dixon and Steve Almond, poetry by Brian Swann and Elizabeth Haukaas, and a right fair mix of artwork, literary criticism, nonfiction on film and place and literary lives, plus a bit of Virgil. Who doesn't love themself a bit of Virgil?
The New Orleans Review, like most everything else in New Orleans, got crushed by Katrina, and the editor, Christopher Chambers, slogged manuscripts from city to city to keep the magazine alive until there was a home to return to. I'd been submitting to them fairly regularly for years before that, got some nibbles but no solid bites. Now the trains are all back on the tracks, and I'm proud to say that a story of mine called "How Things End" is out in Volume 32, Number Two, along with fiction by Dylan Landis and Mario Benedetti, poetry by Michelle Glazer and Bruce Bond, and a moving photographic essay by Jennifer Shaw.
Most of "How Things End" was once part of the first book I published, the novella Nothing in the World. As I've mentioned here and there in interviews, that novella was once a novel, and before that it was a short story. The original short story failed because it was too fragmented, incoherent, even for me. The novel failed because only one of the two story lines was really exploring what most interested me. But when I cut out the other line, there were still sections of it that seemed worthy to me, and that had a sense of continuity amongst them since they were already part of a single narrative. It was a great pleasure for me to have found in the ruins something that could work, albeit in a different form. Oddly (or perhaps not), "How Things End" contains (more coherently, now) three of the four main scenes from the old, abandoned story that started everything off.