A Magazine Without Oates

by Mike Walsh

It all started one quiet afternoon while browsing through literary journals in a local college bookstore. I was shocked and distressed at the carnage wrought by Ms. Joyce Carol Oates. Her cold, wintery presence monopolized nearly every publication. The demure cover sheets shouted the sad fact vaingloriously: "Never Fear--Get your Joyce Carol Oates Here." My body began to shake. The more her plaudits assaulted me, the more my self-control forsook me.

Then, unfortunately, disaster struck. I ran amuck. Overwhelmed with a mixture of fury, sadness, and indiscretion, I was wrestled to the floor, straight-jacketed, and carried off. So incensed was I that in the midst of my extraordinary exit I vowed to start the first magazine in the country, in the world no less, to print nary a sentence (nay, nary a syllable) by that dreaded authoress.

That was fifteen months ago and (viola!) not a Joycecaroloateseanism shall be found between these covers, no matter how humble the covers may be. Her name doth not adorn our Table of Contents nor doth that repugnant nomenclature find residence within our Contributor's Notes. But it was a battle hard fought. Despite my avowed determination to go to press without her, the evil lady and her minions almost prevailed.

It wasn't a week after the first local press releases went out announcing our modest plans before I was accosted by her mid-Atlantic states agent. He extravagantly wined and dined us and constantly pestered us with her submissions despite our rude photocopied rejection slips.

"Small rags like yours are our bread and butter," he explained. "Our prestige helps you get started, and then the back scratchin' starts. Capische?"

The Divine Ms. Oates even threatened my own modest literary aspirations, as deflated as they already may be, with a small press blackball the size of Montana. Failure, you see, is not accepted lightly in the Oatesean camp.

I could go on with tale after tale of her pernicious deceits, but it would serve no purpose save enhance her already abundant girth. Instead, I welcome thee, dear reader, with the warmth of my every molecule. I sit back and smile because I'm amused to imagine Our Lady of the Oates gnashing her teeth to the bloody gums and shouting at a nervous legal representative, "Don't just stand there, you flea-bag. Sue the lying bastards."

Don't Even Try it, Joyce!

Other pieces by Mike Walsh.

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