Without the usual fanfare I’ve seen on lit mag covers and PR, River Teeth celebrates its 10th year of publication with a fabulously packed double issue. I was surprised at the size, which is what led me to the Editors’ Notes (mind you even seeing “Volume 10” didn’t set off any anniversary alarms). As quietly and as calmly as their publication has always presented itself (same gorgeous blue-tinted cover), Editors Joe Mackall and Daniel W. Lehman make no grand statements about a decade of publishing creative non-fiction. Instead, and as always, they defer to the efforts of their writer’s and to their ever-important readership:
“Ten years ago we penned the first editors’ notes to our readers. At this point ten years later, we should be writing at length about our humble beginnings and singing of the heights we’ve reached. Our words should reveal just the right amount of nostalgia, pride, and just a hint of self-congratulation. But there is no time for that; or rather, no space.
“We have to keep this note short. In the ten years River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative has been around, we have received over twenty thousand submissions, and we’ve published about three hundred of those twenty thousand. Most of what we reject is the work of fine writers. And now we’ve had to reject the work of writers whose work we’ve previously accepted. Worse than that – we’ve had to reject the very same pieces we once accepted! We had to choose the best forty or so pieces of the three hundred we’ve published. To make matters worse, we’ve had to divide the pieces up into four categories: Essay, Memoir, Literary Journalism, and Craft and Criticism. If there were no space concerns, we’d write a few sentences about how difficult it can be to say, for instance, where memoir ends and a kind of literary journalism begins, and how much we like pieces that flirt with those boundaries. If we had more space, we’d brag about our Pushcart Prize and our Best American Essays. We’d love to pat ourselves on the back and tell you how many Pulitzer Prize winners we’ve published — and with even more pride — shine a light on the people whose River Teeth publication was their first.
“Saying no to our own writers was the hardest thing we’ve had to do as editors. We hate to reject a piece we love because there’s simply no more space. So the best thing we can do right now is to shut up, and thank you for reading.”