Tag Archives: new yorker

The Novelist’s Due – #7


After picking up the latest rejection from my PO box this afternoon, for Rapture, I stopped into the Body Shop on Union Square to get some shaving cream. There were two chicks and a big bad ass security guard hanging out at the front door. Slow day…?

rejection: new yorker, oct 2009 - Rapture

rejection: new yorker, oct 2009 - Rapture

I was still slightly reeling with delight that my rejection slip actually had a human being’s scrawl on it: “Thanks for the read” it said—my god, the electrons of a living body transmogrified through an inkpen into the manifestation of a sentiment…Body shock.

Then I went into that cursed store.

Of course I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t there for idle chit-chat or to run up my bill, so I grabbed a container of Maca Root shaving cream (shameless, almost unworthy plug) and turned circles looking for the register so I could pay. Just then a sales clerk appeared in my face: Those are on sale. Buy two get one free.

This one will last me an eternity, I told her.

So get something else. Moisturizer, facial cream…they’ll last for three years and you don’t have to come in next time you run out. Stock up. Get two or three. Why not.

This is all I want.

Judging from the disgruntled look on her face she didn’t comprehend the notion that I only wanted 1 of something. I’ll help you over here, she said in a surly tone. She headed toward a cash register in the corner of the room. She was still talking. I ignored every word until the brusque, rapid, “Got your birthday buyer card?” (Or whatever it’s called.)

No, I don’t.

When’s your birthday?

I don’t want one.

Your birthday month you get 10% off every purchase. Even if you don’t have—.

I left it at home. I’ll live without it this time. Thanks.

Through some divine intervention she took my 20 and gave me change: Want a bag?


You can keep everything in it, she said (ie hate mail from the bill collectors and my latest rejection).

Thoughtful, I told her. Thanks. Seriously. Thanks.

Where Rapture ends a Ravenous desire kicks in

When I got home and filed the rejection for Rapture in my folder I realized I’d been clinging to another rejection, unsure of how to package it. It wasn’t a difficult one; it came over a month ago, just as we were in Honolulu changing planes to head home to SF. It was the Esquire fiction contest. Ravenous. No go. Not even the finals.

What is it about a disgruntled 80 year old lethargic that editors find so unappealing? Truth is mighty and it comes in unexpected packages.

Like shave cream in an ultraviolet light-resistant, dark green plastic shopping bag??

The Novelist’s Due – #4

3rd and 4th rejection of the season

At our writers’ afternoon the other day, Don C told me about walking into a publisher’s office one day. He passed by a room off to the side of the offices where sat a young scruffy college kid surrounded by stacks and stacks of manuscripts, like Aladdin in a cave of jewels—except what he was surrounded with wasn’t all gold. “The one who rejected my manuscript…” Don remarked of the kid.

My latest bad news (rejection #3) came from The Paris Review while Arvin and I were in Hawaii back in April. I had someone checking my PO box while we were away, and when he called to say that there was an indistinguishable bit of mail—something handwritten, addressed to me, from me—I was pretty sure I knew who it was from:

rejection: paris review 2009

rejection: paris review 2009

The more things change…

I’m tempted to finish that phrase with the obvious “the more they stay the same” but that would be disingenuous. The truth of the matter is, eleven years ago when I was writing poorly they wanted to see more of my work; now, when I’m writing well, they’re seem to have lost interest.

rejection: paris review 1998

rejection: paris review 1998

Love hurts

I have nothing but respect for editors. After I quit writing book reviews in San Diego, years ago, I moved back to The City with a box full of unread books and galleys. There’s only so much ink (or bytes) that can cover all the pages of work that are produced in this country in any given year, and only so much time to read it. I can imagine the heaps of unsolicited dreck and lunatic ramblings that must come through the pipeline at the New Yorker each day. And there sits that bleary-eyed son of the editor’s acquaintance sifting through yet more paragraphs of strangling prose…

One suspects the folding of the rejection note and slipping it into the SASE are quite automatic:

rejection: new yorker 2009

rejection: new yorker 2009

Rejection. It’s all part of the effort; all part of the novelist’s due.