'New Yorker' Rejects Find a Home on the Web
SCOTT SIMON, host:
The New Yorker magazine is said to have such a treasure of literary wealth within its vaults that it rejects more good articles than all other magazines run. Well, maybe now we'll just see about that. Matt Montandon has been submitting articles to the magazine's Talk of the Town section for four years, without success. But a year ago, he created a website that runs stories that were rejected by The New Yorker. It's called silenceofthecity.com. It's profiled in this week's Village Voice.
Mr. Montandon joins us from New York.
Thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. MAC MONTANDON (Silenceofthecity.com): Thank you very much.
SIMON: Do you notice an affinity among writers that have been rejected by The New Yorker a few times, like among - forgive me - Angelina Jolie's old boyfriends or something?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. MONTANDON: I think it's pretty comparable, yeah. Us writers are a little more ripped, maybe, than her boyfriends. But otherwise...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. MONTANDON: ...we're pretty similar group.
SIMON: What do you think makes The New Yorker reject a piece? Because their notes are legendarily encouraging, right? They won't say...
Mr. MONTANDON: Well, they're - yeah. I mean they're certainly polite. But one thing that was illuminating to me, which I didn't know before the Voice story, was that kind of the raw stats that are involved with this process, something like receiving, I think, it was a hundred Talk of the Town pitches a week. And then they would publish all of 10 freelance submissions a year. So, I'm a writer, that's not my strong suit, but got to be pretty damn right on target to crack in there.
SIMON: The whole process by which a piece gets rejected by The New Yorker is obviously difficult to fathom. What about your website? Do you take everything that was rejected by The New Yorker, or do you have standards yet?
Mr. MONTANDON: So far we've operated pretty free of standards, which is kind of refreshing in some ways. But there may have been one or two things: 8,000-word investigative stories that clearly are not right for that section. So the two criteria area basically it has to be written for that section, and has to have been previously rejected.
SIMON: What are some of the favorite articles that have been rejected by the magazine that you've been able to put up on your website?
Mr. MONTANDON: I'm the first to admit that there are a few differences between Talk of the Town and Silence of the City. And one is ours aren't as good. But there's a piece by a writer name M. M. Deveau about a kid who snuck on to the set of a Russell Crowe movie and ended up getting a walk-on part in the film, which I thought was really fantastic and kind of quirky.
SIMON: Mr. Crowe didn't lay a hand on him, did he?
Mr. MONTANDON: As far as I knew, he took him under...
Mr. MONTANDON: ...his wing, if you'll pardon the awful pun.
Mr. MONTANDON: But I thought that was really an interesting story that you wouldn't see really anywhere else. And that's sort of what has attracted me to the Talk of the Town, and also definitely a reason for getting more of these stories up there; just stuff I like to read.
SIMON: Mr. Montandon, thanks very much.
Mr. MONTANDON: It's a pleasure.
SIMON: Mac Montandon is a writer, an editor in New York. He created the website Silence of the City.