Philip Roth: "Newark is my Stockholm"

Philip Roth may not have won the Nobel Prize this year (that honor, as you know, went to Harold Pinter). But Roth was celebrated nonetheless on October 23 in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, where a plaque now marks his boyhood residence on Summit Avenue. Said Roth: “Today, Newark is my Stockholm, and that plaque is my prize. I couldn’t be any more thrilled by any recognition accorded to me anywhere on earth. That’s all there is to say.” To read the New Jersey Jewish News account of the visit, click here.

Announcing the Bellevue Literary Press

I just revisited the Bellevue Literary Review website and discovered something quite interesting: The Bellevue Literary Press.

According to the website, the Press, a collaboration of the journal and New York University School of Medicine is “a new trade book publishing house” that “intends to publish books of the greatest artistic and intellectual merit from the larger community, both medical and non-medical, while reflecting NYU’s excellence in scholarship, humanistic medicine, and science.” It “will feature original authoritative literary works–both fiction and nonfiction–in the sciences, social sciences and arts.”

For more information, click here.

On the Subject of Online Submissions

A few days ago I received an e-mail from Meridian, the Semi-Annual from the University of Virginia, announcing that the journal is now accepting electronic submissions of poetry, fiction, and essays. This is good news if you like to submit your work online, not necessarily via e-mail, but by using a journal’s specific online submission system.

Using such a system typically requires you to come up with yet another password, and you’ll have yet another e-account to keep track of. But there are benefits: you don’t need to print out a copy of your work and prepare an entire submission package; you don’t need to spend postage on the submission (or the SASE); you don’t need to leave your chair to get your work “out.” It’s less likely that the work will get “lost in the mail” and you can log in and confirm manuscript receipt and find out if the editors have rendered a decision yet.

But some people may wonder: is this convenience worth paying a reading fee that one can forego by sticking to the old snail mail system?

Meridian is charging a $2 reading fee for work submitted online (apparently one prose submission or up to 4 poems). The editors’ e-mail explained that this fee is necessary for two reasons. First, using the online database software raises their operation costs. And second, they’d like authors “to hesitate, a little, before just clicking a ‘send’ button.”

Two dollars isn’t outrageous, and as the editors point out, it’s possible that postage costs would end up “about the same,” anyway (and don’t forget the money saved along with the toner and paper). Still, plenty of journals (One Story and Kenyon Review are two examples that come to mind) accept online submissions through their own database systems without charging a penny.

Yes, these also tend to be journals that don’t accept snail mail submissions at all. Still, if they can run an online submissions system without charging writers money to use it, it seems that others should be able to, too.

Homebound, and news for Rhode Island Writers

Well, my travel plans (and those of many others who’d intended to rendez-vous and talk books in South Florida) have changed. I think we’re all much more wary about impending hurricanes these days, no matter where we live.

In other news, Rhode Island writers should take note of this opportunity: The Robert & Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship provides up to three $25,000 artist fellowships annually. This year the fellowships are open to writers (the opportunity rotates among composers, writers, and visual artists). Eligible genres include prose fiction (“including poetry for the page and stage”), novels, short stories, scriptwriting (“for the stage and screen”), and “experimental forms.” Applicants must be Rhode Island residents at time of application and during the fellowship. Applications are due at the Rhode Island Foundation by 5PM on November 30, 2005. No application fee. For more information and the application, visit the website.

Playwriting for Beginners

More than once I’ve heard this comment about one (or more) of my short stories: “This would make a great play.” Maybe. Trouble is, I don’t have any training as a playwright.

So of course this morning’s “Playing Around” post on the MBToolbox caught my interest. All kinds of tips and suggestions for the aspiring playwright. Check it out.

(I’ll be offline for a few days–off to a conference. Check back next week!