An Open Letter to Lorin Stein

Hi Lorin Stein. I wanted you to be the first to know that I just did the coolest thing of my adult life–I JUST SUBSCRIBED TO THE PARIS REVIEW!

Mr. Stein, I feel really good about this. I feel like I am a useful member of the literary community now. As someone who also works in publishing (we’re so alike) I understand how frustrating it is when people see your magazine as nothing more than a platform to get famous. When people submit and it’s obvious that they haven’t read the submission guidelines and they don’t even know what kind of work your magazine publishes–ugh, that infuriates me. How do you work through your anger?

Also, I’ve been sort of haunted by this quote from Stephen King lately:

What’s not so good is that writers write for whatever audience is left. In too many cases, that audience happens to consist of other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines (and The New Yorker, of course, the holy grail of the young fiction writer) not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there. And this kind of reading isn’t real reading, the kind where you just can’t wait to find out what happens next (think “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad, or “Big Blonde,” by Dorothy Parker). It’s more like copping-a-feel reading. There’s something yucky about it.

Lorin–is it okay if I call you that?–I don’t want to be that writer. I don’t want to be the creepy writer who doesn’t care about the literary magazines, who only wants to be published. I don’t even want to be a writer. I’m just a person trying to live life who happens to occasionally write erotic short stories.  I don’t want to read literary magazines as a sort of necessity of the job, gotta see what’s out there kind of thing–I want to really love them and the stories in them. I want to be entertained! Entranced! Captivated! I want to fall in love! Though some might say I’m already in love…but that’s a story for another day. You like stories, right?

I have no doubt that your magazine is good, I mean, I scour your website all the time for inspiration. But I want to subscribe to a lot more than just The Paris Review and I’m kind of worried that some of it is going to be terrible or artsy-intellectual in a way I can’t stand. Like, I’m super controversial, I don’t like a lot of the stuff published in The New Yorker. Maybe you can hold my hand and walk me through it?

I can cook, too, Lorin.

I can write you a love song.

To make you understand.

That is poetry, Lorin. I’m just a poet, who’s not really a poet, standing in front of an editor who she saw once at a literary event and thought was suuuuper cute, creepin’ on the internet.

Also, I’m totally stoked about the free beach towel that comes with my subscription! I’ll be the coolest kid on the block (IN A SWIMSUIT!!!) thanks to you…dearest.

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