Feel the Envy!

20 Young Writers Earn the Envy of Many Others

Yes, New York Times Headline Writer, my envy is vast!  It contains multitudes!  Well, not quite multitudes.  More like twenty little sharp needles of bitter, concentrated envy.   Why why why New Yorker elitists didn't you pick ME?!?  I coulda been a contender!   You know I'm out here, because I write to you every week to tell you how wrong you were to never publish a story by David Eddings!

Clearly, the only thing your editors appreciate are boring realistic stories about middle-aged professors who have affairs.  Like the stories by Daniel Alarcón and Chris Adrian in Best American Fantasy.  And Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's Madeleine Is Sleeping.  And the title story of Wells Towers's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.  And all of Karen Russell's stories, certainly.  Dirty realists!  Nasty rotten winning smug literary brats!  Baaaaaaah!  (Russell has even been photographed at that Communistic dirty realist gathering, the KGB Fantastic Fiction series!)

Sure, the New Yorker editors say they just want to offer some names of writers they think show a lot of promise for the future, but I know what their real purpose is.  It's to torment me!  That's why they keep sending me their magazine every week!  To show me how much they disdain me!

At least the New York Times headline writer knows the truth, even if she/he didn't mention me by name.  I know that headline writer was thinking of me.  They always are.  It's why I read the Times every morning -- to see what they're saying about me today...


  1. It is indeed a truthful headline!! hang in there, Matt.

  2. Still, I do think that there is a real argument to made about the exclusion of "core" genre writers, i.e. writers who actually market and sell their work in the genre sections of the book store. Sure, lots of the folks who made the list will turn out to have been not-so-secretly writing fantasy all along: see for example how the NYTimes gives honorable mention to Chabon and Diaz, from the previous decade's list.

    But Chabon openly admitted to biding his time until he had enough widespread fame to risk "sullying" his rep with a SFWA membership.

    Meanwhile, the exclusion of writers lik Kelly Link (*)(**) says to me that the New Yorker really wouldn't know a cutting-edge core-genre writer if one fell into their lap.

    (*) Just an example, right? I'm not pissed because KL was excluded specifically; it's just telling that NONE of the really neat-o core genre writers did make the list.

    (**) Also, I have no idea which side of 40 KL is. She was just an example, okay!

  3. And if F&SF published such a list, should they include Sarah Shun-lien Bynum? Though certainly that would be interesting and fun, it would be a big surprise, and lots of devoted readers would scream bloody murder. Most of the writers on the NYer list are people who (surprise surprise) have been published by the NYer. It's a list that promotes and confirms their own taste (a list that promotes and confirms somebody else's taste would be odd). It's useful in giving a snapshot of the editors' interests, but not much more than that, which is why envy is such an odd feeling to ascribe to all the millions of writers in the world not on the list. The only people who should be envious are other NYer writers under 40.

  4. But I think your point only really moves the 'no core genre writers' argument back to the original editorial decision process?

    Also, "This is how the folks who run this particular magazine view their published writers" is not exactly how the NY Times is choosing to read or portray the NYer 20<40 list. The NY Times article is more like: "People! Pay attention! THIS IS WHERE THE ACTION IS!"

  5. And, from what I can see, it's that last sentiment that the genre people are taking issue with.

  6. Okay, I'm not sure at this point if I'm still defending the annoyed genre writers on twitter, or just rehashing your original complaint with the NY Times? Let me know if you figure out what I'm trying to say before I do.

  7. Yes, I think we're on the same page, though perhaps not the same sentence. And honestly, I don't really feel very passionately about it -- I just happened to have seen some Twitter notes that seemed ridiculous and then, against my better judgment, I finally went and saw the NYT story and laughed at the headline, so I wrote a silly, sarcastic post that drew on the two things I'd happened to think were absurd in the last few hours.

  8. I think the only thing I feel passionate about is the ageist nature of an under-30 or under-40 or under-whatever list.

  9. Lee, you're very right!

    Jeff VanderMeer tried to send a comment via his phone, but it didn't work, so here it is: "Yes, it should've been under-75."

    To which I would also add the Ward Six List of 10 Over 80.

    And also an essay published by The New Yorker, of all places: Malcolm Gladwell's "Late Bloomers".


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