Evident Merit

The New Yorker

he New Yorker keeps rejecting my humor essays. This is not devastating, just temporarily demoralizing. I say "temporarily" because each time I'm rejected, I receive what can only be the most laudatory rejection e-mail The New Yorker has to offer: the Evident Merit Rejection. If you have not yourself enjoyed the honor, it goes like this:

"We are unable to accept your submission, despite its evident merit. Thank you for allowing us to consider your work."

Why, once, they were so impressed with one of my pieces that they whisked off the Evident Merit Rejection e-mail not four hours after my submission. I hope I am not coming off as too smug, but both The New Yorker and I understand that writers who pen meritorious essays do not like to be kept waiting.

As an elite rejectee, I feel it is my privilege—nay, my humble duty—to print here The New Yorker rejections sent in response to lesser works. I imagine them as rungs on a short but perilous ladder to Evident Merit. After which it is only a matter of time before one appears in The New Yorker as a regular contributor. See how this journey unfolds, beginning with the bottom-most rung:

Dear "Writer,"

It pains us to respond to the dreck you call an essay, but here at The New Yorker we stand by our promise to respond to all submissions within three months.

Kindly desist from sending us anything ever again, as there is positively no inkling of merit contained in this sorry excuse for writing.

All the Best,


Dear "Writer,"

You have no idea how close you came to receiving our dreck letter. This close.

Please do not write to us again for at least five years, or until you can say with absolute confidence that you will not incite the aforementioned dreck response, thus effectively barring your ever submitting anything to us for the rest of your life.

Best Regards,


Dear Writer,

The merit is there, we can feel it. But it might be hiding behind a couch or something, because it is not what we could call "evident."

Please locate it for us and resend your essay when its merit is in plain view. Then, and only then, will you receive our second-highest accolade to the unpublished New Yorker writer: the Merit is Present But Not Yet Consistent Rejection.

Take care,


Dear Writer,

We detect merit in this piece, but are unable to bestow it our ultimate rejection for the following reason:

According to our records, you have submitted at least one previous piece whose merit was sensed but not clearly seen. Therefore you need to prove to us that you can consistently be rejected on the basis of evident merit.

We realize the Standard of Evident Merit is a lofty one, but this is The New Yorker you're dealing with, not some small-time regional.

Best Wishes to You and Yours,


Dear Writer,

We could have rejected you this time on the basis of evident merit, but your piece followed too closely on the heels of some dreck we just read by someone else. It's not fair to you, we know, but dreck makes us tetchy.

Do it for us one more time, to paraphrase The Captain and Tenille, and we promise to grant you the Evident Merit Rejection. Cross our hearts.

You're the Bomb,


Dear Writer,

We are unable to accept your submission, despite its evident merit. Thank you for allowing us to consider your work.