Preemptive Letters of Rejection

re: Your request for jury service

Dear Mr. Booker,

Thank you kindly for the man-sized edition of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall,which arrived on my doorstep last Tuesday. The dancing skeletons were a nice touch and I enjoyed their catchy ditty – “Join Mr. Booker, he’s our Man” – but I’m afraid I simply don’t have the time to judge your lovely prize. I am far too immersed in my own work to wade through the bleak and tawdry prose of my peers.

Yes, the chalet in Chamonix looks lovely, as did the chef, who seemed a little young to have three Michelin stars to his name and too scantily clad for those Alpine surroundings, but who am I to question his credentials?

That said, I must board the elevator back down into the dingy depths of my literary salt mine, bidding you adieu and wishing you well on your quest to snag alternative jurors.

Yours in time,

Richard de Nooy



re: Your tendencies and proclivities

Dear Mr. McSweeney,

I regret to inform you that, although your internet tendency shows great promise and regularly prompts a wry smile, I have decided that your publication is unsuitable for my work. Because there are so many literary magazines to choose from, I am unable to enter into further correspondence regarding my decision, but sincerely hope this does not deter you from seeking the work of other authors.

Sincerely yours,

Richard de Nooy


re: Your faux-Parisienne rag

Dear Paris Review,

Although I am honoured by your request to contribute to your magazine, I regret to inform you that I must cordially decline as it has come to my attention that you have long preyed on the gullibility of those ignorant enough to believe that you are based in the French capital, when indeed you are little more than a colonial rag, buffing up and serving somewhat outdated quotes to your friends on social networks. That said, I wish you the very best of luck in your further endeavours.

Yours in writing,

Richard de Nooy


re: My naked writing body

Dear Playgirl,

Although I am willing to accept, as you have repeatedly suggested, that there is “a select group of readers who take a keen interest in the naked bodies of middle-aged authors,” I regret to inform you that no air brush on earth is strong enough to blow me onto the glossy pages of your publication. I also strongly advise that you remove from future queries the contention that “you writers will do anything for hard cash”, as this seldom extends to the publication of soft focus photos of one’s meat and two veg.

Discreetly yours,

Richard de Nooy

PS: I have enclosed unopened the 2009 calendar featuring Man Booker Shortlistees.


re: Please convey your intentions by way of modern dance

Dear The New Yorker,

Having received more than a dozen pleas by e-mail, letter, fax and telephone to submit work to your magazine, I kindly urge you once more to read the submission guidelines on my site, which clearly state that one of your editors should contact my agent and arrange an appointment to submit to me in person at a motel of my choice, preferably dressed in appropriate garb (no latex, please), at which time I will ponder the merits of your publication as conveyed to me by your editor in the form of modern dance.

Strictly yours,

Richard de Nooy


re: Please come and fetch your editor

Dear Granta,

Your junior editor, Michael Basildone (according to the passport I confiscated along with his clothes), has been curled up naked on my doorstep for the past four days. I ordered my wife to stop feeding him on Wednesday, but he seems undeterred and has taken to intercepting my mail in the hope of finding something useful to publish in your magazine. You have until noon tomorrow to retrieve or call off your editor (the volcanic ash excuse will no longer wash) or I shall be compelled to call the police.

Considerately yours,

Richard de Nooy


re: Participating in your book club

Dear Ms. Winfrey,

I hereby formally retract my participation in your book club. As I have explained to various members of your team, I initially acquiesced to your request because I was labouring under the misapprehension that yours was a fan club for the Marx Brothers (Harpo was always a firm favourite). I also kindly request that you stop sending me video messages of yourself crying as you read my previous messages out loud.

In closing, I would like to suggest that you procure the services of a psychotherapist to answer the question you ask at the end of your previous message (in all-caps, 16-point, bold, Times New Roman), as I feel I am unqualified to tell you who you are.

Yours cordially,

Richard de Nooy


re: Your decision to award me a prize of some sort

Dear Dr. Lundqvist,

Flattered though I am by the attention you have bestowed upon me, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept a prize from an organisation that kidnaps (albeit briefly) its nominees and subjects them to torture (albeit light) in the back of a limousine. Yes, the three committee members first plied me with champagne and gravad lax, and yes, I initially agreed to the foot massage proposed by your Korean member (Mr. Wong?), but I certainly did not give permission for the subsequent feathering of my soles by the tall, blonde lady who introduced herself only as Svenka and kept shouting: “This is an honour! Are you willing to accept this honour?!” in a strong Swedish accent. Judging by the faces of previous nominees, I hazard to guess that I am not the first to escape from your limousine as it cruised the beltway. I find it hard to fathom that an organisation such as yours would drive people to such reckless deeds. Perhaps you could raise this issue at your next board meeting.

Not entirely yours,

Richard de Nooy

PS: I would be most grateful if you would return my sneakers, which I suspect are still hanging from the rear-view mirror of your limousine.


re: Your offer of Canadian Citizenship

Dear Mr Trudeau,

Having given all due consideration to the offer presented to me by your cultural attaché Mr Lefevre of the Canadian Embassy in Amsterdam, I regret to inform you that I feel disinclined to adopt Canadian citizenship and must refuse the six-figure annual stipend you offer and the villa in Toronto.

Although I am flattered by your argument that “Canada deserves a novelist of the calibre of JM Coetzee”, I can in no way guarantee that I could fulfil your country’s ambition of “finally winning a [expletive omitted] Commonwealth Prize”, as Mr Lefevre suggested after several glasses of red wine.

May I be so bold as to suggest that you make the villa in Toronto available as a retreat for worthy young Canadian writers, who I am sure will also welcome a portion of the stipend you so kindly offered? If all else fails, perhaps you can approach the US Secret Service to establish whether there are any Canadian authors masquerading as Americans. I’ve always had my doubts about that Delillo chap.

Yours helpfully,

Richard de Nooy