Alas, poor Gordon!

Eee! I got my first ‘Alas’ in four years! Now all I have to do is explain to my parents why I’m elated by a rejection letter.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, the editor in chief of F&SF always puts the word alas in his rejection letters. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand that word. Back when I was getting at least one rejection letter a day during my year off, I held a barbecue and torched 200 rejection letters, including all my alas letters from Gordon Van Gelder. I regretted it soon after, when Gordon stopped reading the slush pile and the lack of an alas meant his assistant editors thought a story wasn’t good enough to bother passing up the line. It got to the point where I sent a cover letter saying, “I’m enclosing my story, I hope you enjoy it. But if you don’t, could I have an alas? I’ve grown sentimental about them.” (No dice.) So for the first time in four years, I’m good enough, and suddenly alas is my favorite word.

On the way home tonight, I passed by a little Asian market and got onigiri for dinner. Onigiri is basically a maki roll the size of your fist, shaped like a hamentashen. I haven’t had it since college, and now I’m all sentimental for hundred-year-old eggs. Then I got home and my dad called and wanted company for dinner, so he came over and we went out to a diner for cod cakes and ice cream soda and we talked. I love my dad. I really, really do.


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