Most Famous Stories in the Portland Review

What is this? Helen. They want me to tell them more stories about famous foist stories in The Portland Review? Christ. I got a stomach problems. God. These kids don’t care. Fine. Fine!

Back in 1853 I was a clerk for a law firm on wall street, and since I’m a rather elderly guy today it might be hard for me to remember, but I did meet Herman Melville.

Herman!

Mell, as his friend’s preferred not to call him, was a janitor sweeping all up over my firm. He kept coming by and asking me questions.

“Hello good sir.”

“What can I do ya for?” I said, doing some very important paperwork.

“Were you asleep?”

“Just restin’ my eyes, kiddo. What’s up?”

I was up shitcrick. This no nothing party member janitor found me napping at work. Now I made a handsome salary in those days, which was about seventeen cents a month. God, could you live like a king on that. I used to eat nothing but ham, which is odd because I’m a chosen person, if you know what I mean. What? Oh come on Helen. I’m just kidding. My uncle was in the vaudeville. Zeppo Marx. You know. The Marx Brother that the Marx Brother’s all hated. Zeppo. Yeah yeah.

“Good sir, can you do me a favor,” this Herman kid asked. “Could you read this story of mine, and start a literary magazine and publish it?”

“Kid, I don’t know the foist thing about publishing. I’m not even sure I know how to read.”

And then he pulled a gun on me and the Lone Ranger came out with Hemingway riding him instead of a horse and I took a nosh from the onion on my belt, which was not the style at the time because onions had just gone out of style, and well. Blackmail is such an ugly word. That’s what Hermy said. Uh.

Helen. I need a Fresca. What? Sanka? Well, that’s not the same. Sigh. Whatever.

And that’s how Tin House got started. Now stop calling me.

 

 

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Most Famous Stories in the Portland Review

Morty (Last name unknown) was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Portland Review from 1921-2010. He is currently retired, living a life of modest luxury in Florida. “Helen!” he screams, “I need more cream. It’s hot out.” These are his stories.

The Killers (1926, Ernest Hemingway). Oh Christ. I remember sending that acceptance letter out in the mail. Great story. A little weird that there was little to no dialogue in it, but god, the writing was great. I think Ernie narrated it from a mouse’s point of view, originally. I can’t remember. You’d have to ask the currentReview editor to dig that one up. But man. He (Hemingway) hadn’t published very much at that point, I think just this book about cats, and was living in some European country eating biscuits or something). So my gut reaction to this story was that it was great and that we had to publish it. I mailed out the acceptance letter and the very next day I got a call.

“Yeah,” I said, answering the phone.

“Thank you.” God that voice. Sounded like. Well. It just sounded like some guy. Nothing special. It was like he wasn’t real. Some ghost was calling it. Or a computer, if they had those at the time. Maybe a calling machine. But the voice was just there, like a lump of crap. Flat. Affectationless. Dead to the world. For a second there I thought someone was about to off himself and called me, wrong number of course, as the his suicide call. Also, I hadn’t had a change to drink my morning Joe.

“Lissen kid. Don’t kill yerself until you get the person you wanna talk to. Like a lady. Ladies are good to talk to. They listen.”

“This is Ernie.”

“Yeah, great. And my friend Bongo Bob has a bridge he can sell ya.”

“No. I wrote The Killers. The story you accepted.”

“Jumping Jesus on a pogostick,” I said. “Don’t you live in Canasia or something? How’d the mail get there so fast.”

“I just want to thank you for publishing my story.”

“Oh yeah, it was pretty good. Had some suggestions.”

Ernie gulped. Young writers needed to be wrangled, you know? And it’s my job to do the wrangling. We, editors, see something that can be developed and we do that. No writer is born fully-formed. You see these chuckleheads being published in the Nude Yorker. You think that comes that easily? No. Editors mold the prose. The unsung heroes of the writing world, us. Editors. Someday someone’ll write something about whatever it is we do titled Whatever It Is We Do Is A Secret. But I digress.

“Kiddo, put a few lines of dialogue in there. Some breathing room. No one wants to read a list of cheese.”

“Kinds of cheese.”

“Whatever.”

“There are a lot of kinds of cheese. Brie. Monster. Charlie Cheese. Uh. Wednesdaydale. Yellow. Orange….”

And then the goober was getting ready to list things, so I cut the joker off.

“Dialogue. Scene. Stop with these long paragraphs and flowery sentences. You’re nuts are purple but your prose shouldn’t be.”

“My nuts are pink.”

“Well, what do you have that’s purple?”

“My guts.”

“You need to go out there and live for a year son. Go hunt a lion. That’s how I got my job.”

And then I hung it and drank my coffee.

That, my friends, is how literature is born. And a legend. Helen. My cream! I need my cream!

If I still had a prostate. Uh. Well. Nevermind.

Most Famous Stories in the Portland Review

Hiya folks, this is Morty here again. I’m here to tell yas about the most famousest stories ever poiblished in The Portland Review. You can read part unos of this exciting new venture here: Not there! Here!

Now, before we go onta today’s story, let’s see if we can’t find us a bedder pitture of me. Morty. The second editor-in-chef for the rag. Now, back in those days the positions was called editor-in-chef and not capitalized because you worked for the cafeteria at the university and were considered worse than dogshit. Goddamned privileged students. But I diegress.

Oh jumping Jesus on a pogo stick. Helen! Ya been futzing with my computer box again! I don’t want to… oh…

uh.

Yeah. Anywhom. It’s unfortunabadly that we can’t find use a pitture of me this week, but next!

Today I’ll be talking about publishing Richard Yates’s Jody Rolled Some Bones.

Now, dis was the story that made all Dick famous. Foist published in The Portland Review in the late 50’s (1950’s or 1850’s, I can’t really remember) and then later picked up by some rag by the name o Harper’s Atlantic. 


It’s a classic story about sodgers in World War deuce and how their lives are decided by luck, no control over nothing. What? Sodger? You know, Helen. Like those guys who go to the wars. S-O-L-D-I-E-R-S. Sodgers. Christ. Ya got too much cream in yer ears. Gotta get rid o that infection.

So, originally Yates included this description of his ex-wife in the middle of the story:

goddamned cunt motherfucker cigarette need must kill all mother fucker mother fucker mother fucker.

And I cleaned that up for public consumption. Now this really disrupted the narrative, so I called Yates up.

“Hello Richard,” I said.

“You cockshit,” he said, “what do you want?”

“I’ve got a question about this story of yours that we agreed to publish.”

“You can’t not publish it. No backsies.”

Now, at that point I realized that that was true. No backsies. So I resolved to READ every submission sent to us, and not just pick a few at random. Had that written in the charter. So that’s why The Portland Review reads every submission now, unlike some rags out there today.

“Right,” I said. “I know, but you’ve got this paragraph of profanities in the middle of the story. You got them goys at the base being drilled by the sarge or whatever. And then you stop the story to go on this five-page-one-paragraph rant about your ex-wife.”

“Did you know that my daughter is dating some fruitcake with a candy-striped coat? Bald Jew.”

“Well, Richard. This might soiproise ya, but I’m a bald Jew.”

“What do you want?”

“Could you edit some o that profanities out? Not all of it, mind you, I think it’s good. But just some of it. Also, all of your stories seem to be about either sodgers. TB patients. Failed sculptoring ladies. Failed marriages. And guys who write ad copy and want to be real writers.”

“Fuck you.”

Needless to say I wanted to pull the story, but published it with that five-page-one-paragraph rant o cuss words. Then the Atlantic Herper’s took  it and then cut that pagraph out. Pussies.

 

What? Helen? Whaddya mean this story was had been low-hanging fruit? It was true. And that’s all that matters. Years later Richard came up to me and said, “Thank you for being the foist to publisher me. I wouldn’t be the sexcessful alcoholic I am today if it weren’t for you.”

Eh. I should get an assistant to type tings out for me.

Until next of the time!

Most Famous Stories in the Portland Review

Hiya folks, this is Morty here. No last name. Just Morty. I work for the Portland Review. Hey. Should that “The” be capitalized? Hah. I guess so. I was never able to quite figure that one out. So. Hiya folks. Morty here. And I made a mistake. I used to work for The Portland Review. You see, I’m eighty-nine years old. What? Oh. Sorry. My wife is telling me that I’m fifty-six. Either way, I used to work for the, I mean, The Portland Review back in the day. Here’s a picture of me:

Hey. I thought I had more hair. And more face.

So, one of the young punks who works for the, cripes, The Portland Review asked me to comment on some of the more famous works that have graced our fine feathered pages. Michael Magnes was his name. Managing Editing was his game. I can only assume that he’s dead now, since most Managing Editors only last a few days. It’s a vicious position, why I myself moidered seventeen of my Managing Editors back in my day. Course, it was legal to do so. What? Honey? Moidered? You know. Moidered. When you kill some goy. What? Not a Gentile. A Goy. G-U-Y. Christ. Ya got whitefish in yer ears Helen? Moidered? M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D-E-D, uh. Anywhom.

Magnes asked me to comment on some of the most famous stories in The Portland Review. Here’s the first installment. The foist of many I hope. What? What do you mean my accent isn’t consistent?

A Small Good Thing by Raymond Carver.

Ah. The famous Ray Carve. Everyone knows this story. It’s about a breadmaker or a goat or something. Foist published in 1983, I believe. No. 1982. See, most people thing that it was published in Ploughsares in 1983, but those creeps just copied our pages. And they actually paid Ray. You know, I agreed to publish it over a cup o Sanka, Sanka being the only beverage available in Portland at the time. God it was awful. That first line: Saturday afternoon she drove to the bakery in the shopping center.

Originally read: Saturday evening she drove to the bakery in the shopping center.

“Jesus,” I said to Ray. “Why would anyone go to a bakery in the evening?”

“Because,” he said, as he lighted a cigarette, “baked goods.”

“That ain’t an answer.”

“What’s in an answer,” he said, sipping his Sanka.

“You creep,” I said. “Lissen. Change that line to afternoon. Also, instead of a bakery how about a shampoo store? Everyone needs shampoo.”

“Sure.”

And then he sent me the story with that one line-change, evening to afternoon, so I figured that he changed everything I asked him to. So I lighted a cigarette and published it. Three years later I read it and realized that creep didn’t do a goddamned thing.

So I called Ray up and said, “Jesus Christ, you crumb bum. How dare you not lissen to my changes. I’m the goddamned editor.”

“Morty,” he said, “calm down.”

“Sure.”

“You know how the story ends?”

“What, with the people eating the bread after their dog or something has died?”

“Yeah,” he said, “dog.”

“And you wrote, smell this it’s heavy and rich and they smell it and they taste it and it taste coarse and sweet and it’s a small good thing after all of the tragedy that has befallen them?”

“Yep,” he said, “after their dog was eaten by a Leopard.”

“Hmm. Maybe you should change that to their kid?”

“I lighted a cigarette.”

“I’m just saying. Also, Shampoo is home-ier.”

“No,” he said, drinking a Sanka, “it isn’t.”

“Are you drinking a Sanka?”

“Sanka is a small good thing.”

“It tastes like shit.”

And then he hung up.

 

Well folks, hope you enjoyed the first installment of “Most Famous Stories in The Portland Review.” Noice to be back here. Morty out. What? Helen? You need more cream? Sure. I’ll just go to the bakery and purchase some. TiVo me the program. You know. The one with the negros on it. What? I can’t hear you. Eh.