The Life and Death of A Literary Legend
"We don't publish much poetry in New York Literary Review," I said, perhaps the understatement of the evening. I elaborated on the role of poetry, an ancient form born of romantic passion yet buffeted by a heartless business environment to which it is invisible.
"Sometimes it's like we don't exist," I added, as a hundred heads nodded sadly in agreement.
Afterward I was besieged by people proffering the manila envelopes I was coming to dread. I said I could accept submissions only by mail and told everyone to subscribe to NYLR. Most said they were already long-time subscribers, while others copied down the address. No one subscribed, though I did recognize some handwriting in the deluge of envelopes that gushed in over the next few days. More than one referred to how much they had learned from my talk.
By now I was exhausted. I never realized how much energy it takes to open an envelope and slide a rejection slip into it; no wonder magazine editors all look so tired and world-weary. And don't think my job was one bit easier because the magazine didn't exist.
So I came to a sad but inevitable decision: it was time to fold NYLR.
On the Web site I posted this "Note To Subscribers":
With great sadness, the next issue of New York Literary Review (formerly Etheria) will be our last. We take great pride in knowing that we treated all submissions in a fair and evenhanded manner. We would also like to thank our subscribers, without whom we would not exist.
That afternoon I got a call from the owner of a trendy club in SoHo asking if she could host a party for the final issue. It was the kind of snooty nightspot I'd always been terrified of walking into. Of course I had to agree.