Thursday, February 18, 2010


Knock knock knock

Charley! You made it! Come in!

Uh, yeah, but Sean … Why are you in your tighty-whities?

Hi, Charley! Saved a seat for you here on the futon!

Oooh, dang, my bust, Sean. I didn’t know you had company … Don’t want to mess your groove up—

Charley! Come on in! Kick off your Levis! Make yourself at home!

Whoa, whoa, whoa … I’m looking for the editorial meeting for the campus literary magazine, not some libidinal Sunday afternoon freak fest …

Maybe I read the address in the departmental email wrong.

Nope, you got it. Welcome to the “Slush Flush” for the Wine And Swiss Purview, AKA WASP, literary journal.

We’re having a good, old-fashioned manuscript burning! If a submission from the slush pile doesn’t hold your interest after three pages, cast it into the flames!

We’ve been burning so many stale short stories, bad poems, and non-compelling works of literary non-fiction, though, it got too hot in here and we had to start peeling off layers.

Hence the aroma of hot Cheetos emitting from the sweaty pile of tube socks in the corner.

[Can’t we at least crack a window in here?]

We did … and the AC’s pumping, full blast.

How did we get so backlogged with submissions?

Solicitations … The idea was to publish a special issue composed entirely of pieces written by well-established authors to boost readership.

Who knew so many hundreds of tenured writing professors and career novelists were so desperate for readers?

Not to mention so hard up for good literary material?

Have you come across any keepers yet?

Oh, sure! Amy Bloom mailed in her grocery list, penned in felt-tip marker on the back of a Planet Hollywood coaster.

A masterpiece!

And Junot Diaz hawked a loogie into a page torn from a paperback copy of The Lord of the Rings and sent it in via Priority Mail.

Postmodern genius!

And Charles Baxter wiped his ass on a sheet of notebook paper and sent it bubble-wrapped inside a packaging tube.

Solid … Effing … Gold.

The bar is that low, huh?

These are writers with name recognition, Charley … Do you know how many copies we’ll be able to move with these authors’ names printed on the cover?

But why settle for scraps from the literary elite when there’s so much tough, refined, and incisive work being produced by less well-known writers?

Don’t be a maverick, Charley.


We, as WASP’s editorial board, are creating a canon of 21-centruy literature here.

How would we like it if our children and our children’s children were to look back over the history of American letters and see that a sudden flight of wild abandon on our part caused the national literature near the beginning of the millennium to become radically and suddenly dehomogenized?

That would be wonderful! We would have not only upheld and, indeed, strengthened the integrity of American poetry and fiction but also, in my humble opinion, drawn it from the brink of extinction.

Well, hey … The slush pile is at your fingertips.

[If you find this theoretical work of resurgent American aestheticism …]

We’ll burn it!


I mean, we’ll put it to a vote, and then we’ll burn it.


I mean, if you really, really like something, we’ll do our best to consider not burning it.




… Hell, Charley, we’ve got, like, a Mount Saint Helens of mediocrity to cull in an evening! Unless you’ve happened to finger through the 21st-century reincarnation of Melville, do us all a favor and feed the fire.

… Understood.

1 comment:

Abdel Shakur said...

"And Charles Baxter wiped his ass on a sheet of notebook paper and sent it bubble-wrapped inside a packaging tube."

Ahh, those were the days!