The New Yorker Magazine
4 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
February 12, 2004
Dear Mr. Wolinetz,
Thank you for your recent submission to The New Yorker. We receive a tremendous amount of submissions, as you know, and we do appreciate your patience. However, at this time, I am afraid we are unable to accept your fiction submission entitled “Whoever Smelt It, Dealt It: A Mystery.”
For starters, the name of our magazine is The New Yorker, not the “New Yocker.” Certainly you must know this, as your address not only reveals you to be a New Yorker yourself, but you receive our magazine weekly on your doorstep. The note attached to your story, asking us if the title “rhymes with ‘Focker’” just makes you look stupid.
Usually, in mystery stories such as yours, there’s some question as to who committed the act in question. However, in your story, there’s only one man, sitting alone in a room. Clearly he’s the guy who passed gas. I don’t even know that I had to read the entire piece to figure that out. Perhaps, to add to the mystery, you should consider adding an animal to blame it on, such as a dog or something like that. Your character also seems to be obsessed with killing people with thumbtacks. I don’t know that one person can kill another with a thumbtack. It could probably give them tetanus, which, if left untreated, could kill the person over the course of an extended period of time. I’ve never taken a thumbtack in the stomach, but I’m fairly certain that I could survive if, as I mentioned earlier, I received the proper immunizations.
I’ve read a lot of fiction in my time, Mr. Wolinetz, but your piece has some of the worst writing that I’ve ever seen. You have several clauses that just don’t end. Your participles practically dangle off the page. You perilously misuse several large words. You even misuse the word “this,” which until now I wasn’t sure was even possible. You show a knack for using pretty much the wrong word at the wrong time, like “nickel” instead of “pickle” and “carburetor” instead of “sandwich.” (I’m not sure how you confused those.) By my count, there are over 300 commas in a story just over 1000 words long. I’m not sure if such statistics are kept, but this has to be some kind of record. Just to be safe, I’ve contacted Guinness and I’ll let you know the result.
How am I supposed to interpret the sentence, “Phil eats the baby with relish but doesn’t enjoy rafting in the springtime with gonorrhea and wading into the small lava puddle?” What on Earth does that mean? You make several allusions to poisoning your mother’s chardonnay because she’s a “drunk bitch who steals pennies from my piggy bank.” In fact, the last page of your story seems to be covered in some sort of muck. I don’t know what it is but I pray to God that it isn’t what it smells like.
I’d ask you to rework this piece and resubmit it, but I’m afraid. Please do me a favor. Tear this up and throw it away. Then burn the pieces and toss your computer out the window, just to be on the safe side.
Thanks for submitting (I guess),
Fiction editor, The New YoRker