From Playboy to Gettysburg and not a one of them “interesting”

Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network is ready to rumble over the Zoo Press contest debacle. He’s sent the following letter to Poets & Writers:

Dear editors,

First off, this is being Bcc’d to eight Literary Bloggers, including Laila Lalami of, who both of the bloggers you quoted in your article referenced as their original source for this whole Zoo Press Debacle. They may all do with this information what they wish.

This is specifically in regards to Neil Azevedo’s comments that there were no entries of the 350 or so submitted worthy of being passed along to the judge, C. Michael Curtis. “They just weren’t interesting,” he’s quoted as saying.

I know of at least one entry into the contest in question. I’ve read the acknowledgements page for the proposed collection of stories. This author has previously published two short story collections, including a Richard Sullivan Prize winning collection.

The stories in the proposed collection included those previously published in the following journals or magazines:

Playboy – two stories
Glimmer Train
Missouri Review – two stories
Southern Review
Gettysburg Review
Night Train
Southwest Review
Antioch Review
spelunker flophouse

One was reprinted as a Pushcart Prize winner, and another was included in a Best American Mystery Stories compilation.

Seeing as the quality of fiction published in most of those journals and anthologies is so weak, not to mention the fact that C. Michael Cline has previously selected one of this author’s stories in The Atlantic in the past, I fully understand where Mr. Azevedo might not have found even this single collection worthy of passing along.

Give me a break.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.