The New Yorker:

From 1994: “There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about fiction,” Angell writes, cutting to the chase.

By Roger Angell 

Do anything long enough, and you hang up a record. Just go to bed every night, and before you know it you’ve passed Sleeping Beauty. Set down the dog’s dinner, day by day, and pretty soon he’s put away enough Alpo to feed the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. “Hey,” said a colleague of mine, sticking his head in my office door the other day. “Did you know that you’ve rejected fifteen thousand stories here? I just figured it out. Fifteen thousand, easy.”

Well, thanks. I got out a pencil and did some figuring, and decided that eighteen thousand was probably more like it. I tried to envision that many manuscripts trudging back home again in the rain, and to imagine the reception they got there when they rang the bell—“Oh. You again”—and, wincing, I heard the mumbled apologies and explanations. Then I added on all the other mournful regiments of rejected fiction sent back from this salient, down the years, by fellow-editors of mine in the same line of work: a much larger body of the defeated and the shot-down—a whole bloody Caporetto. “We regret . . . ,” I murmured unhappily to myself. “Thank you for . . .” I sounded like a field marshal.

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