on dishonesty

cigar-tin story #56; one of the illustrations for the stories mentioned here.

* * * * *

Yes, I'm still pissed off.

Or perhaps just *more* pissed off.

It was just a few days ago that I posted a major bitch parade -- in the form of an open letter -- about a literary journal called The Antigonish Review. Now it seems I'm forced to stomp all over the same old ground, only this time it's about a literary journal called Grain.

Like The Antigonish Review (or TAR, as it's coloured in my mind), it really doesn't matter what I send to Grain. They are never going to publish it. Full stop. Stories about growing up on the prairies, about small towns and their characters, stories about youth and arrogance, about doomed relationships, coming-of-age age stories, life-affirming stories, dark-hole stories of nihilism and despair, magical fucking realism ... all of this is just inconvenient noise to the editors at Grain. Christ how I've tried. I could send them bubble envelopes filled with sloshing pints of my own blood -- they'd just put on dishwashing gloves and start fishing around for the self-addressed stamped envelope. Fine. Never mind that we should be some kind of not-far-enough-removed retarded cousins or something; I *did* grow up in the same fucking province, after all.

Yes, fine, fine. Reject away. But what I *really* don't like is getting that rejection slip just three weeks after I submitted to you. Three fucking weeks! Everyone knows that a literary magazine -- the efficiency equivalent of three giggling five year-olds getting dressed for kindergarten -- can't do *anything* in under six months.

Listen: if you're not going to read the stuff that people send you, then just fucking say so. Full stop. Just say: we are not accepting submissions at this time. Besides being honest (and polite), it allows people like me to waste our postage elsewhere.

Some people will say that I shouldn't be writing these sorts of things, because I can ill afford to make enemies or burn bridges or whatever you call it when you have to take shabby treatment like it's just more bad weather. Honestly: whatever. It's not like they'll even notice my book when it comes out, let alone review it. And even if they did, who would read the review anyway?

p.s. You should personally apologize to the tree that shed its inch of skin for the subscription form you so thoughtlessly stuffed into the envelope as well.


  1. How about a shout-out to the friendly lit mags out there?

    Like The Puritan that not only published both of us, but then invited us to their party? Those young, hip scallywags didn't even treat us shabbily for being the oldsters that we are:


    Or how about Zsolt at Loose Canon, who also invited us to a party in Mtl and actually has (email) conversations with us as though we are real people. The best part of the link below is that it tells us about Loose Canon while trashing mags like Grain and Tar:


  2. That *was* a good link, thanks. And yes, there are many magazines doing great work, without looking over their shoulder to see who's watching.

  3. your writing is AMAZING. they are missing out.

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