Let’s talk about The New Yorker. (Iknowiknowiknow, but someone’s gotta do it.)
Obviously we’re all geniuses, that’s kind of a given, so like (Seinfeld voice): “What’s with all the rejections?” [Awkwardly looks around stage.]
Well, anyway, I, el Gran Señor D’Antonio Ballesteros, am here to put your thoughts at rest, because through multiple excursions into the espantoso Amazonian maze that is the Writers Rejection List, I’ve discovered how The New Yorker chooses submissions: Listen up.
We’re all familiar with the following:
Thank you for your submission. Please note that all manuscripts are read and considered for publication, but, due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to provide a personal response to each one. If your manuscript is right for the The New Yorker, you will hear from us within ninety days. If you do not hear from us in that time, please assume that we were unable to find a place for it. Thank you for being in touch, and best of luck with your writing.
For clarity’s sake, we’ll go sentence by sentence.
“Thank you for your submission.”
Not enough people realize the importance here: those closety and hallowed “Editors” are just as aware as we of our collective genius. That’s why they’re so appreciative of our submissions! Just think about how many they actually receive—if we weren’t geniuses, then their response would be more along the lines of “Fuck off you sub-standard literary leach, we’ve got too much in the slushpile already to add your particularly slimy variety of shit!”
But no. This is not their response.
“Please note that all manuscripts are read and considered for publication, but, due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to provide a personal response to each one.”
(Gertrude Stein is quaking.) Please notice, dear Writer, that this apology is the most convoluted constructed sentence in the entire email, acquiescing to the banality of human circumlocution.
“Please note that all manuscripts are read and considered for publication ...”
From the beginning, there is deception, since certainly the manuscripts titled MY LIFE STORY and FIRST GRADE DIARY and PLEASE READ ME NEW YORKER, I KNOW YOU CARE are not seriously considered, for if they were, how could the prestigious New Yorker be considered prestigious?
“but,”: That but. That damn but. Getting in all of our ways and surrounded on either side by unnecessary, brunt-bearing commas.
“due to the volume of submissions we receive ...”
Ohhhh, so they think they’re special? They think they’re better than other journals, do they?
“we are unable to provide a personal response to each one.”
No. They are not unable, and this is not due simply to submission abundance. This is due to a far more heinous, more sinister crime. (See final conclusion.)
“If your manuscript is right for the The New Yorker, you will hear from us within ninety days.”
Here it is: the climax, the crux. What it’s all been leading to. Even the most juvenile writer will note that most common of errors: “the The New Yorker.”
Oh, joy! Oh, revelation! Here is the truth: not, dear Writer, that the The New Yorker suffers from an abundance of genial submission, but that they themselves cannot distinguish the good from the bad, as evidenced by their lack of grammarian pristinity. (Oh, how the stars begin to align!)
“If you do not hear from us in that time, please assume that we are unable to find a place for it.”
Read that again. “Please assume.” “Find a place.” What euphemisms! What lies! What bullshit! (At least, having learned from that labyrinthine vulgarity that is Sentence Two, they’ve kept sentences Three-through-Five to an unassuming two-part structure.)
“Thank you for being in touch, and best of luck with your writing.”
Oh, how differently this "Thank you" reads from the one earlier—how bitter, how nostalgic. And truly, who can’t feel the dejection in that pitiful send-off "best of luck"?
And we’ve arrived. Who are these editors? How did they come to be? What powers are theirs that you and I—mere mortals—cannot but grasp at fleetingly? I submit to you, dear Writer, that these Editors, as such, do not exist. That we were, all of us, deceived. I submit to you that the The New Yorker relies on the proverbial dart throwing of monkeys which allows them to rid their selves of any lingering guilt from the grammatorial inadequacies which prove they are unfit to sift the slush from the pile.
It’s a harsh truth, I know, and will no doubt require years of therapy and reflection to reconcile, but regardless—I hope one day you’ll join me on this side of the river, ever closer to writerly enlightenment and honorable publication.
(Say my name) Dante (you’re goddamn right) Antonio Ballesteros
*Feature image by Fran_kie (Adobe)