Tailormade Turndowns

Directions: Read each of the following manuscript rejection slips and, based on style and content, try to decide which magazine editor sent it.


Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
East Village Other (anti-establishment paper)
Modern Crime
Psychology Today
Reader’s Digest
The New Yorker
True (Macho adventure mag)

Your article on multiple buzz-saw slayings had a certain charm but is much too outdated for our use. Try to remember that you are living in an age in which laser-beam dismemberments are finally possible. Nerve gas torture is a reality, not a dream, and breakthroughs such as radiation burning have opened creative vistas unimagined before now. In short, there are many new ways to skin a cat or a little old lady. Try to keep up.

There are many ways to handle rejection: reaction formation is one (see April ’68 issue, “The Syndrome That Won’t Go Away”), aggression displacement projection is another (January ’74 issue, “Sure Cure for Paranoia: Slugging People”). If you want to cry, go ahead. It’s good for you.

Stone turnoff bad rap straight bummer down trip. Next time get your shit together.

Upon receiving your impeccably typed manuscript with attached self-addressed return envelope, we uncorked a chilled jeraboam of Dom Perignon ’59 (far superior to the ’58), slipped into our brocaded antique-silk Pierre Cardin smoking jacket, ensconced ourself on our black leather Stendig sofa with our favorite femme and, between amorous encounters, perused your volatile verbiage with admirable impartiality and found it not entirely devoid of redeeming social and literary merit, but lamentably lacking in erotic appeal. In short, it isn’t the sort of thing we’d want consenting adults to read in private, so we asked our girl Friday-through-Thursday to deposit it in cur brushed brass, teak-trimmed circular file (by Abercrombie & Fitch, $159).

We’re afraid there’s no life in this manuscript and we’re returning it. However, since we now have your name and address we’re taking the liberty of sending you 312 weeks of our fine magazine for $1.77 (your cost: just over 1/2 cents a copy). We will begin billing in three weeks; please remit promptly, as overdue discounts will damage your credit rating.

silken caverns
faraway rain
ruptured bridges.
we wept.
no no no no no nononononono no

Well pal, I got the manuscript today. It was like six inches of cold steel in the gut. You go a long time thinking you’re tough, but every man knows he has a limit. Fifteen minutes and halfway into a deck of Camels later, I knew, cold sweat plastering the curly black hairs on the back of my neck to remind me 1 was scared. I had to send it back. It was one of those things you do only because you want to go on calling yourself a man.

It rained the day we received your manuscript and we took it, under our raincoat, to a trattoria we know on 52nd Street, where bologna, salamis, provolones and pepperonis hang by strings over the glass butcher case. We had salami on rye and sat at a small round table in a corner and read your piece. We remember thinking, by contrast, how fine the salad was.

Although we are sure you are a good Christian American and don’t smoke, we must return your manuscript. We have 116 articles in stock on ten ways to find happiness in marriage. Anything more on the subject at this time would be repetitious. Reprints of this rejection notice are available for 35 cents each, 25 cents each for orders over 25 copies.

Fuck you very much.

Today’s woman is alive, a part of her world. She’s not afraid to be seen, to be heard, to make her presence felt. Her children are a delight, not a burden; her man is a magical partner, not a master; her home is an exciting environment, not a cell. She feels, sees, loves, works, plays. And she’s strong. She can stand up to hardship and endure rejection. CAN YOU?

In our tenth-floor offices, there are two left-handed editors, a red-haired typist, a slinky little file clerk named Fuzzy and a janitor who comes in precisely at 11 p.m. every night. One of these people killed your story.

Source: Unknown