The one problem with electronic submissions is that all you get in the form of rejection is an email. But here's the one I received this week from Kenyon Review:
-----Original Message----- From: kenyonreview Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 1:23 PM To: damon Subject: Your submission
Dear Damon Garr:
Thank you for submitting your story. We regret that we are unable to use "Riverside."
Your work has received careful consideration, which sometimes means a response less prompt than we would wish. Unfortunately, the large number of submissions prevents us from commenting on many worthy manuscripts.
Okay, boilerplate so far. But now it gets interesting:
[Personal note: we apologize profusely for having kept your story for such a long time, and even more for deciding, in the end, not to take it. Your story was passed from editor to editor, all of whom admired some aspects of its craft and execution. In the end, however, we didn't quite find enough to warrant keeping it. In my case, it seemed to me that the opening and closing were weaker than the rest, lacked the supple surprise and mordant dilation of the middle.
Again, sorry to keep this work so long. We'd be happy to see more from you in the fall--we'll try to be more prompt in getting back to you! Best wishes and good luck. ]
We do appreciate your interest in The Kenyon Review.
Yes, the Kenyon Review almost took my story. Almost? Oh, that would have been nice. And now they're not reading again until the fall. So close.
Finding that balance between a fruitful creative life and the obligations and joys of family life has been a constant struggle for me, and in this month's Poets & Writers section The Literary Life, Dan Barden's article "Writer as Parent" voices some of what I've been feeling:
Parenting is no doubt difficult for people in all professions, but I believe there are special challenges for writers. First of all, there's the matter of time: You not longer have any.
There should be no doubt about this, but the time you do have to yourself you are so spent that there's little energy.
Not only is there no time, but there's precious little space. And by that I mean both in the world and in my head.
The little buggers steal even your random thoughts.
Now I work in ten-minute chunks whenever life will allow--and count myself lucky for that.
Take that Walter (three-hours-a-day) Mosley. Maybe this is the real key to getting things done when you have a life, and other responsibilities.
Ultimately, the only appropriate response to a child is surrender. In this, too, it reminds me very much of the writing process.
When playing or caring for a child, that need be all there is in the world. And that is how it should also be when writing. If only I could have my mornings back so that I could do more of that thing called writing.
With the changes coming soon, I wonder when I will be able to write. Or sleep, for that matter.
I don't believe I've read a more bloody or savage book than this one. It is not unlike The Road, with it's perpetual wandering, running, but this desolation is the beginning of civilization, not the end of it. The formation of the American West was a brutal one, and this apparently well researched novel shows a ugly and vicious history.
The novel is peppered with strong bits of real philosophical musings, but this only comes after pages and pages of deserts and heat and rotting scalps and ears. There wasn't, though, much story here. We're brought along by the need for survival, but we don't learn much else along the way. Even the tension we see and the odd resolution are unsatisfying.
I hate to say that I was disappointed after enjoying Suttree and The Road so much, but I was. Maybe it's a question of subject matter or maybe the time is just not right to read about this sort of barbarism.
I really don't have anything to say about this except fantastic. An unsarcastic fantastic.
Pulitzers for McCarthy, Coleman (AP) Two masters of the arts world finally won Pulitzers on Monday, with 73-year-old novelist Cormac McCarthy receiving the fiction prize for "The Road"....
It was the first Pulitzer for McCarthy, widely praised as an heir to William Faulkner for such novels as "All the Pretty Horses" and "Blood Meridian."
McCarthy, author of nine previous novels, has won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. But "The Road" is the author's greatest and most unlikely success. Not all of his work has caught on with the public, or with critics, but "The Road," an often horrifying story of a father and son on a post-apocalypse landscape, placed high on numerous critics' lists for 2006 and last month received publishing's most lucrative honor: Oprah Winfrey picked it for her book club and even persuaded the press-shy author to agree to a television interview. More than 1 million copies of "The Road" already are in print. McCarthy's book was one of four Pulitzer winners — out of five categories for books — released by Random House, Inc., an achievement the publisher is calling unprecedented.
Every so often an author who has published a couple hundred dozen novels decides it's time to dole out all the writing knowledge they have stored up to those of us willing to suck it up as if we didn't hear this not so long ago from some other wise ass who also wanted to rub our noses in their success. This time it's Walter Mosley on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Pretend you haven't heard it all before.
Yes, I sent work to Missouri Review again ("The Auction" this time) and again I was rejected. They were courteous enough, though, to include the personal note apologizing for the "unusually long response time. I'm sure it was because they were really considering the work.
Another rejection that came a couple weeks ago for my story "The Auction." Prairie Schooner wastes no words or paper on this one. Maybe I should have gone with a shorter, more succinct story to submit.
Here's an intimidating list of authors up for the Man Booker International Prize: Chinua Achebe Margaret Atwood John Banville Peter Carey Don DeLillo Carlos Fuentes Doris Lessing Ian McEwan Harry Mulisch Alice Munro Michael Ondaatje Amos Oz Philip Roth Salman Rushdie Michel Tournier
Literary purists may quake at the prospect of a Charles Dickens theme park complete with a Great Expectations boat ride and Ye Olde Curiosity Gift Shop.
But Dickens World, a 62 million pound ($115 mln) complex built in the naval dockyard where his father once worked as a clerk, is confidently predicting 300,000 visitors a year to this new attraction dedicated to the Victorian author.
"We are not Disneyfying Dickens," insists manager Ross Hutchins as he dons hard hat and fluorescent jacket to tour the site, a hive of activity as the Fagin's den playground and Newgate Prison's grimy walls are given their finishing touches.
I had a dream once, deep in the middle of that whole MFA thing, that I was chasing Kurt Vonnegut around the halls of some labyrinthine college, hollering at him because he was my professor and he had failed to grade some key large assignment for which I was obviously expecting a good grade. It says more about my anxiety at the time than it does about Vonnegut, but I've felt a link with him ever since.
By the way, there's an old undergrad essay I wrote on Cat's Cradle here. Scroll down to "Possibilities for a 'Better World.'"
Capitalism's success, however, has meant that core wants in the developed world are now mostly met and that too many goods are now chasing too few needs. Yet capitalism requires us to "need" all that it produces in order to survive. So it busies itself manufacturing needs for the wealthy while ignoring the wants of the truly needy. Global inequality means that while the wealthy have too few needs, the needy have too little wealth. ... Capitalism is stymied, courting long-term disaster. We still work hard, but only so that we can pay and play. ... When we see politics permeate every sector of life, we call it totalitarianism. When religion rules all, we call it theocracy. But when commerce dominates everything, we call it liberty. Can we redirect capitalism to its proper end: the satisfaction of real human needs? Well, why not?
The world teems with elemental wants and is peopled by billions who are needy. They do not need iPods, but they do need potable water, not colas but inexpensive medicines, not MTV but their ABCs. They need mortgages they can afford, not funny-money easy credit. ... Public citizens must be restored to their proper place as masters of their private choices. To sustain itself, capitalism will once again have to respond to real needs instead of trying to fabricate synthetic ones — or risk consuming itself.
While a lot of this sounds like an undergrad term paper I once wrote, it should appeal to those of us growing wary of capitalism's end-game.