Dear Mr. Homer,
Thank you for coming into the office last week and performing your epic poem. Unfortunately, we do not buy books based on pitches. We think your story is very interes—no, actually we don’t. While your saga is not right for us, we do think that if you trimmed it by thirteen hours and sixteen minutes, it might make a wonderful Moth monologue. With a few changes. To begin with, your poem is set in Greece, which, as you know, is kind of a downer right now. Could you move it to Qatar? Oh. Wait. I just remembered that Showtime is doing an adaptation of Angela’s Ashes that takes place in the Mideast. “Angela’s Oil, Oy Vey.” Which reminds me, a number of us in the office felt that your central character, Odysseus, was a deadbeat dad. Did you intend this? Or is that one of those things that happens when you don’t write things down? Some of us also had problems with the similes in the poem, whereas others didn’t care for the metaphors. It might comfort you to know, however, that most of us don’t know the difference. On the other hand, we all agreed the monsters were unlikeable. Another thing you may not have realized: the character is named Odysseus and the book is the Odyssey. See the confusion? Why not call the book “Eat, Slay, Love,” or “How to Travel Around Some of the World on Five Dollars a Day and Still Lose Weight”?
Thank you again for thinking of us. Please send us anything else you may be working on—except that dated war-horse thing.
P.S. Someone in the office wants to know if you’re related to Homer Simpson?
P.P.S. Our marketing department loves that you’re blind. You might also want to develop leprosy.
Note: This rejection letter to Homer appeared on the New Yorker website in an article dated October 4, 2012. Find the article at this link. Patricia Marx wrote the piece for the Author’s Guild Centennial Benefit, June 4, 2012.
Painting: “Homer” by Janaka Stagaro.