Received in the post this week from one Paula Collins, whose return address is a PO Box in Mount Morris, Illinois (a town west of Chicago on Highway 64 - see map), the following form letter:
Now, there is much that might be said about this letter, starting with its promising salutation (”Dear Writer” - quite heartening to be accepted into the guild upfront), then moving on to its opening gambit, which makes you suspect Ms. Collins spent long years as a guidance counsellor at Mount Morris High before embarking on her current career. She writes:
Can’t you hear the voice of your own High School counsellor in Morris’s self-evident prophesy, warning you about black marks on your “permanent record” - ? And her stern note to us delinquents, for all its brevity, manages to descend further into the absurd from there.
The best reply that you could perhaps furnish to a letter like this, if you were so inclined, might start as follows:
It’s simple: If you don’t begin to publish a magazine that is more galvanizing than Golf Illustrated, and that takes itself even slightly less seriously than The Sharper Image catalogue, then you’ll have to forge ahead with your destruction of the forests in the name of colorless, humorless bumf without the support of first-and-last-time subscribers, who’d hoped for something better, like the undersigned.
And proceed from there.
- Poets & Writers Magazine (Ugh)