Some of you may have seen the piece in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times on August 10. “It Took a Villain to Save Our Marriage” was the headline and that grabbed our attention.

The piece, by Teresa DiFalco, described her stagnating suburban marriage and the dramatic interlude provided by a bully-like neighbor who insisted on blocking the sidewalk with his car, a practice that caused the author and her husband to find new togetherness through their common enemy. In the end the couple moved to another town and — surprise — the neighborhood bully killed himself.

As we read it we wondered if the marriage really was saved. We knew only that the couple was still together. We also wondered how much of the piece was true and how much was fiction, a distinction made difficult by the fact that none of the characters other than the author had last names and the location of the suburb was never specified. And — the point of this journalistic review — we vowed to bring the Times piece with us to the U.S. 1 Summer Fiction reception this Thursday, August 14.

About that reception: It’s on August 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in MarketFair on Route 1 South. We will have hors d’oeuvres on hand and, we hope, lots of writers, including those whose poems and short stories were published in the July 23 Summer Fiction issue. At around 5:45 or so we will begin to introduce the published writers, inviting the poets to read their works aloud and offering comments on the short stories from John Symons and E.E. Whiting, the two literary-minded souls who screened all the submissions to this issue and recommended the ones that made it to the final editing stages. (We will have plenty of extra copies on hand, so everyone attending can read along if they like.)

We don’t know yet what Symons and Whiting will have to say about Mary Mallery’s story on page 49 of that issue, but at that point we will have a point to make: Mallery’s story, “Good Neighbors,” had a plot vaguely similar to that of “It Took a Villain” in the Times. But to us it had a more satisfying ending than the Times story — a tribute to Mallery as well as to the genre of short story fiction.

When it’s all over, at around 7, some of us will retreat to Big Fish, down the hall from Barnes & Noble for a post-reception drink. And a few of us in the nonfiction world may wonder: Wouldn’t it be great if some readers got together and discussed our words as carefully as they do the fictional work at this event?

We hope to see you August 14.

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Construction continues at During this process our archives are in two places. At the archives search page read the first paragraph to find the link to stories published before March, 2008. More recent stories are now searchable by date, story type, author’s name, and keyword.

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