Friday, April 15, 2005

The Literary Mafia

I received my first response from a literary magazine. The problem is that I can't tell what they are saying.

Last night, I didn't get home until after 10. My wife and I had gone to see a play. ("The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia." If you're interested in sitting around with 200 drooling octogenerians and watching people talk graphically and quite literally about fucking goats, that's your play.) We came home to the usual pile of mail slipped through our mail slot. The obsession about awaiting responses from literary magazines that I wrote about recently has largely given way to quiet resignation, so I mainly scanned the mail for bills or free stuff. Then I saw an envelope that looked eerily familiar. Yes, flower stamp. Yes, laser-printed address label addressed to me. Yes, literary magazine return address. My God! It was one of the SASEs I enclosed with my submissions.

I shoved my wife aside, scampered to the dining table, and ripped the envelope open. Inside, I found two pieces of paper: A photocopied subscription request form for the magazine, and the first page of my story. There was no handwriting on either. No note. No letter. I picked up the torn envelope and peered inside. Did I drop something? Was something stuck to the glue on the envelope? No.

I suddenly had the willies. Is there some kind of literary magazine code I'm unaware of? Does sending back the first page of your story mean something? The creepy feeling I was left with was approximately the feeling that Woltz must have had in the Godfather when he woke up and found his prized horse's head in his bed. Clearly, this was a message. They severed the head of my story and sent it back me. "Don't fuck with us, Stairs. We'll take your prized story and slice it to pieces. And by the way, want to subscribe?" I spent the rest of the evening looking over my shoulder, waiting for literary magazine thugs to bust through my door demanding my computer, which they would smash over a chair and tell me to stay off their turf.

So I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I assume they are done thinking about my story, since they used up the one SASE I provided. Perhaps the subtle message being sent, Coppola-style, was that my story doesn't fit with their vibe, and therefore I should buy a damn copy of the magazine and read it before submitting again. I don't know. But they're on my shit list now, and I won't be submitting to them again. That should teach them.


Blogger Jenn said...

damn...that is kinda creepy. good luck, and keep a big stick close by for the next few days.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Henry Baum said...

That's weird and hopefully ridiculous enough to ignore. So you know, I made submissions to a dozen or so places, whenever that was, and I've only heard back from 5.

11:50 PM  

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