Thank you for your submission.

While we are not interested in this particular piece,

if you have work that is closer in style

to the audacious prose of our client, Norman Mailer,

we would like to read it.

(A hint: Fewer knitting circle scenes.)


Thank you for your manuscript.

Unlike our client, Norman Mailer, you have not mastered

The art of writing as though every word

Comes from the gut, where also resides

At least seven tumblers of premium-label Scotch.

When you have written something like

The Naked and the Dead

Get back to us.


Thank you for allowing us

The dubious privilege of reading

Your novel, A Shade of Dolorous Pink

Like That Found on the Breasts of Mourning Doves.

It made us glad

That our client, Norman Mailer,

Does not read submissions.

For surely he would wish most fervently

To hunt down the doves of which you write

And break their necks with great deliberation.

(He could do it, too.

He is a burly man, but nimble.)


Your manuscript, The Coroner’s Philtrum,

Made us stare out at the grid of city lights

And think, Has the human race

Come so far only to produce

This infected intestine?

You may want to consider

Watching more boxing matches,

As does our client, Norman Mailer.

(The lead critic at the New York Times

Described his prose as “muscular.”)


Thank you for your collection of short stories

Upon which our client, Norman Mailer, would piss contemptuously

And possibly then stab you with a butterknife

Even while still zipping back up.

His is a talent one can only call monstrous

Which is why he would be able

To multitask thus.

Henceforth, when you think of publishing,

Please do not think of us.







Photo by Poryorick

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About Author

M. C. Allan's poetry and fiction have appeared in VQR, Blackbird, Linebreak, Tar River Poetry, and other publications. She blogs at Ecstatic Doggerel. "Slips" is for Tom Lachman, who inspired it.


  1. This piece provoked me to laughter. Congrats on catching the elusive snottiness of cookie-cutter rejection. Cool!

  2. Thanks, y’all. Believe it or not, this was based on a true story a friend of mine told me about working the slush pile at Mailer’s old publisher — in the form notes they sent, they liked to remind groveling would-be novelists that not only were they rejected, it was by the Great Man’s publishers. Awful. Glad it wasn’t my job! 🙂

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