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The Literary Review - Great International Literature From Fairleigh Dickinson and Editor Walter Cummins

The Golden Years of The Literary Review

In the mid nineties,
The Literary Review, edited by Walter Cummins and published online by Michael Neff of Del Sol Press, held the distinction of being the second traditional literary journal to ever be published on the Internet--the first being Mississippi Review edited by Frederick Bartheleme. Like Barthelme, TLR editor Cummins was a visionary, and unlike most of his contemporaries at the time, quickly saw the value in making the superb and varied international literature of TLR available to the world via the Internet.

As you will see below, we are linking here to as many of these TLR golden age issues as we can discover, now all web-archived (thank God!). And why the web archive, you ask? Well, the originals, over a dozen issues, suddenly vanished overnight from the mainstream web once Walter Cummins retired from TLR. It was as if they never existed. The former editor, contributors, and web publisher were never notified. Though  a shock to all at the time, this disconcerting event is old news, and the time to rectify is at hand. We hope you enjoy these fantastic collections of a bygone era.

Special thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine! And thanks to the tech guys for their skill and foresight. If not for them, this small miracle of rescue would not have been possible.


The Literary Review: An International Journal of Contemporary Writing has been published quarterly by Fairleigh Dickinson University since 1957. Its many special issues have introduced new fiction, poetry, and essays from many nations, regions, or languages to English readers. Issues focus on such topics as contemporary Portugese literature, Iranian exiles, the Jewish diaspora, North African authors, and Russian women writers. Works from issues devoted to writing in English have won awards and been reprinted in many collections. A good sampling of these issues, recently recovered, are featured below.

The Literary Review, Winter 96

Opening Night in the Capital

      In the cities under the shogun's rule, townsmen flourish. Like the words to the song, "Prosperity reigns." The merchants of the capital are an exuberant lot. They can afford it, for reckoning to them is second nature, and frugality has become a way of life. (*1)
      Last fall, when the Konparu school of no actors performed in the capital, not a seat remained in the house--though a box for the four-day performance cost ten silver pieces, and all tickets were cash-in-advance. To add to the furor, the old favorite Lady Komachi at Sekidera was on the bill, whetting everyone's appetite. Problems arose with the drum, alas, and the program was changed at the last moment. Even so, crowds thronged the theater. From the night before the opening, people piled upon people like a mountain of humanity...


The Literary Review, Spring/Summer 96

Stone Daughter

 I moved to Japan because my husband's father and elder brother Jiro had died in an early morning fire that destroyed the family house. A nephew, two years old, whom I had never met, had also perished, virtually wiping out the male line of the Tanaka family. The day after we had received the news, my husband woke me before the sun had risen. "Ellen," he said, "I must return to Kasama." I knew he meant for good, though he was afraid to say it. For six generations, his family had been making pottery in their sloping kiln built up the side of a hill; without him, the dynasty would end. His mother feared losing the business to a distant relative, one who did not understand that her husband lived on in his clay.
        "We must return," I told him.
        Relief unfurled his dark eyebrows, and I kissed them. I had come to think of a life as a series of little string pieces knotted together, one at a time, to form a misshapen doll. This journey, I knew, could be another bit of string attached to myself, or it could be the first piece of a new doll, one that perhaps would not end up as deformed...


The Literary Review, Summer/Fall 96

The Death Trap by the Bikin River

      The hunter blows the dirt off the sugar lumps in the open box and mixes Grusian tea into the bog water boiling on the open fire. He knocks the dead insects off the bottom of the enameled cups and pours. "Drink," he says.
      We could use a fortifying drink, because one of us came within a hair's breadth of ending his days in the death trap right behind us...


The Literary Review, Winter 97

The Rendez-vous

WHEN THE WOMAN WOKE UP, she remembered it was July 14, 1986, and she had to keep a historic appointment. Her husband was up, and the sound of the water in the bathtub left no doubt of his location. Instead of the morning roosters and singing birds, Mahmoud was the herald of the new day. Familiar sounds followed one upon another: The slippers scraping against the floor; the opening of the bathroom door, razor and brush, toothpaste and cup, clattering out of the medicine chest. If she had had a few drinks the night before, or had finally overcome insomnia, or was sound asleep for some other reason, he still had other devices. He would clunk the kettle down on the stove, or call loudly to the kids. He would never shake her awake; politeness was still the order of the day. But one of his arrows would eventually hit the target...


The Literary Review, Spring 97

Bedloe's Island, 3 A.M.
    So many names without faces,
    shoes without feet,
    darkened market stalls.
    I walk past the wrecked tower, the bands
    of electronic headlines
    pulsing out news of Pearl Harbor, Bataan;
    walk past the museum of failed marriages
    without looking inside; past the black-eyed
    school of no lessons;
    the shrine for lost raptures & products of conception...

The Literary Review, Winter 97


WHEN WE ARRIVED, there in the approaching bend, a woman riding a bicycle was passing by. She passes still, her torso following a curved line, garbed in a shirt, short-sleeved and white. She pedals on, her hair wafting seaward on her shoulders, looking toward the street we later saw, when the woman was no longer there; the street that parallels the harbor, and then turns left into a place that exists still, but which we never got a chance to see. She was gone. It was not our fault that we did not see her again, though when I saw that she was not there, I thought perhaps Shirin had intentionally prevented it. Nevertheless, I see her still, with the corner of her shirt floating in the air. Her pants were of black cotton. I can also see the sandal on one of her feet, the one with the back lace untied. She pedals and holds her face straight into the wind and she goes. For a moment, we parked near the sidewalk, so that Shirin could step out and light us both a cigarette, and I could only get a glimpse of her slightly bent torso and her uptilted head, facing into the wind, with her brunette hair, all with the backdrop of a calm blue sea.

The Literary Review, Spring 98


First Book of the Moon
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night . . . .
--Genesis 1:16
New Moon

(Moon as Utterance)I can't remember the first time we said moon. We were
         lightheaded by then,
dizzy: moon-drunk. And then it was gone--the oddest thing,
          the new moon,
no moon at all, that slipping back and stunned again, and absence
          vast as a sun,
vaster, and everyone naked as fish in the black room of our
          dream. We spoke
in whispers. We crawled on our bellies through that hollow vowel
          as if
we believed we could breathe there, as though our whole lives
          were suspended, 

Useful Links re TLR and Walter Cummins


  1. I have been meaning to create this blog post for a long time, ever since I discovered that the archives online had vanished without a trace or an explanation. I couldn't be happier that these prior and priceless issues of The Literary Review are now back and available to everyone.

  2. Bravo, Mike! Beautifully done! And thank you for including me! A goldmine of TLR for all.


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