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.

 

 

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.

Dispatches from the press room: Magnes’s Mailbag: And In The End Part 2/3/5: Sunday Mailbag Coming Down


Howdy folks. Elton here.

In the words of Bigfoot: “I not dead” [sic].

I was minding my own business down in the press room, trying to get this issue printed up after weeks and weeks of delays from those dopes upstairs. The editors–an incompetent bunch if I ever saw one–left Magnes to run the place while they all went gallivanting off into the sunset. And if the editors don’t know how to lick a stamp, then Magnes doesn’t even know what a stamp is. Which is funny, since he gets the mail more or less every week. And then wastes your time answering questions no one asked and clutters up your MyFace page and Twatter feeds with his inanity.

Anywhom, I was running the presses–because the magazine’s finally ready to go–when I heard this obscene ringing in my ear like a drill bit whirring into bone. My vision went black and I saw in my mind a red telephone on a rain-battered Ikea table (those Swedes can make anything, can’t they?). The receiver jumped with each ring and with each ring the drill bored deeper into my skull. On the third ring the black went white and the telephone vanished and when I could see again I saw the flesh melting off my own skull in the garbage-filled office of the Portland Review, an office that shuddered with each breath it drew.

What sorcery was this? I touch my face. My skin was still there, but it was my skull, unmistakeably bubbling in the corner, the rest of my body evidently incinerated into a pile of ash at my chin. But I was here. Was that body a creation of the Review or the occupiers or Magnes himself? And what of poor Patty, the tortured assistant to whom I never screwed up the courage to reveal my love? She was even more unrecognizable, reduced to rubble in the fray, just a scrap of her hair to reveal the body’s identity. Scraps of the occupiers decorated the walls and Magnes was locked in conflict with himself and the sentient office. The red telephone was there.

“Don’t answer it!” I yelled.

Magnes reached out his hand and I jumped for the wall and the phone line. Magnes’s hand shot back. His eyes were wild with terror and confusion. I pulled the cord from the wall and creaked my way upright. There was a full minute of silence save the sounds of the Portland Review’s labored breathing.

The phone rang.

The cord was still in my hand.

The phone rang again.

The drill worked deeper into my brain and I fell to my knees.

The phone rang again.

Magnes reached out his hand.

_ _ _

Until next time,

Elton Deacon: Portland Review Master Printer, President Local 442: IBLPOHHIWT, PhD

Dispatches from the press room

A weekly series in which I, Elton Deacon, master printer, union leader, and PhD in comparative literature, fill you in on the REAL goings on at this sweltering dung pile of a literary magazine.

Howdy folks. Elton here.

I’m sure you’re all wondering where I’ve been. Me too. One minute I’m changing my earplugs in the press room, the next I’m sitting cross-legged in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. I think there may have been a writers’ workshop of some kind or another nearby, because I heard a bunch of idiots hooting and hollering about POETRY! And they were all wondering what was at steak and whether or not some asshole earned his cliche or not. And there I was, scratching my ass and wondering how in the hell I got there. It wasn’t even sweet corn, just that nasty starchy field corn that’ll make ethanol and feed cattle.

Anyway, I was just sitting in the dirt and the shade, watching aphids crawl all over everything, when an incredible sense of calm washed over me and I knew I was on corncation. I never liked Magnes, that squirrely turd of an administrative assistant, but he got the corncation thing right.

Here’s what I think happened: Patty, the idiots’ long-suffering secretary, got tired of Magnes eating her yogurt (Patty’s yogurt, DON’T EAT!), so she set up on a corncation. I was mistaken for Magnes and sent on corncation instead. And I spent six weeks in the dirt and the mud and the rain and the sun and the corn. I found myself steadily coming to peace with the fact that the editors of the Portland Review are incompetent slobs.

And now the issue is on its way to me. And maybe those kids running the show upstairs are damn dummies, but at least they’ve managed to churn out a product. Look for it in the middle of Novemeber.

Until next time,

Elton Deacon: Portland Review Master Printer, President Local 442: IBLPOHHIWT, PhD

Dispatches from the press room

A weekly series in which I, Elton Deacon, master printer, union leader, and PhD in comparative literature, fill you in on the REAL goings on at this sweltering dung pile of a literary magazine.

Howdy folks. Elton here.

Well, seems I’m a bit late to get Magnes out of the sewers. I tell you, that kid is sure annoying–and he’s never put in a day of work in his life. Regular Chicken Little, that one, sky’s falling every day. First, he thinks he’s fired, so he runs away into the sewers with his tail between his legs rather than coming to me–the union president–to see if there’s a way to rectify the problems he caused with that insensitive post. Then, when he gets into the sewers the idiot gets himself stuck in a pipe. And then he thinks he’s the center of the goddamn universe when he can’t grease his way out of there. Like his problem is everyone’s problem. So when I found him while getting rid of some hazardous…I mean…GREEN, SUSTAINABLE waste down there, he thinks I’ve got to drop everything and get him out. Like I don’t have enough to do.

So I left him my bag of Combos (the pepperoni pizza kind) and went over to the Pipe Cutters’ shop out on 82nd and got this saw that’s supposed to detect soft tissue and automatically shut down. I wanted to be able to cut through the pipe without sawing the kid in half. The saw’s still in development, though, and the engineer was on his lunch break–which the union stipulates has to be at least an hour, but can last for as long as three weeks. So I decided to take my lunch break too. Hell, even though I didn’t leave Magnes the butter he asked for, at least he had the Combos. He wasn’t gonna starve.

Anyway, I finally got the saw–it’s pretty nifty–and I went down into the sewers today to set the whiny kid free. What a mess. You’d think he’d been trapped in a pipe for FOUR weeks or something. Somehow he had a black eye (I suspect he punched himself), and any kind of muscle mass the little alien ever had was gone. He looked like a wet grocery bag full of pizza crusts. When he saw me trekking knee-deep through sewage up to his sorry ass, he didn’t thank me. He didn’t ask how my weekend had been. He didn’t apologize for the inconvenience. He just looked up at me, tears and blood and mucous streaming down his face.

“Did you bring any butter?” he asked, his voice cracked and rasping.

I was butter-free at the moment, and I told him so. But I had the saw, and I was ready to cut him out. I started it up. The saw’s motor is a perpetual motion machine, very complicated stuff, and it takes a little while to warm.

“Butter?” Magnes said again.

“No butter,” I told him. The saw was ready. I started cutting, and Magnes screamed through the whole ordeal. It took the better part of four hours to saw through that pipe and he cried and cried and cried. Hell of a way to spend a Sunday off.

Well, turns out the saw isn’t has spectacular as those pipe cutters think it is, and when I pulled him free of the sawed-off pipe, Magnes’s midsection was banded with a nearly complete deep cut, oozing blood and iron grit. Seems the saw has to make a few rounds into soft tissue before it recognizes the change and turns itself off. Oh well, it’s nothing 360 degrees of stitches and a few nights in intensive care won’t fix. At least he’s out of the pipe.

When I dragged him up the the surface, into the blinding light of the subbasement of Smith, he looked around the Portland Review office as if for the first time. Marshall, Michael Magnes (the original), and Mollet were all there, huddled over something on the desk. Something real interesting by the greedy looks on their faces. Magnes crawled off my shoulders and zombie-hobbled over to the three idiots around the desk. He pushed himself between his doppleganger and that oaf Mollet. He reached a hand down toward the desk, palm-down and open. When he brought it back up to eye level, it was covered in creamy yellow goo. Magnes licked his fingers and smiled with satisfaction.

“Butter,” he said, putting his entire fist in his mouth.

Until next time,

Elton Deacon: Portland Review Master Printer, President Local 442: IBLPOHHIWT, PhD