Department of Corrections



Even Roth once dreamed of the jackpot.

Thank you, Mike Leaverton, for your notice in SF Weekly about our event at The Booksmith in San Francisco next Monday, June 14. (Hope to see you there!) And thank you, too, for the opportunity to clarify a few things about the legend of the Paris Review slush pile. Your version went like this:

The Paris Review throws all unsolicited submissions, three-pointer style, into an ancient, fire-belching potbellied stove, which a soot-covered intern, such as Philip Roth (Summer, 1946) or Don DeLillo (Fall, 1952), keeps eternally lit for this very purpose.

While we do receive more than a thousand fiction submissions every month, we don’t use them to heat our office, or to play trash-can basketball. We read them all, every single one, before burning (or sending back via SASE).

In fact, the summer issue, which hits newsstands and mailboxes next week, includes a story, “Elk Stalled in Snow,” by Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, who came to our attention through a slush submission. Mr. Reetz-Laiolo will join me at The Booksmith on Monday night, along with photographer Jeff Antebi and poet Matthew Zapruder.

And just one more thing: Philip Roth was never a Paris Review intern. But his story, “Conversion of the Jews,” was plucked from, yes, the slush pile, by Rose Styron in 1958. The odds might be long but, like you, we’re always dreaming of the jackpot.