From The Desk of Mr. McFetridge

The following is a comment left in the “Rejecting Faulkner” thread by G.D. McFetridge, the essayist whose actions I took issue with in that post, and my response. Enjoy:

G. D. McFetridge says:

January 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Alex (who?),

You’re hardly worth the effort, but I’m bored. First of all, you don’t know who I am, I’m published under more than one name. Your shallow attack reveals more about you than me. Are you a republican, or just a cohort of FJ’s? The selective way in which you drew from my essay excluded any chance of your rant being objective, a rant clearly meant to elevate your little ego at my expense. Good for you. But you’re way out of the loop. “Show Us, Mr. Faulkner” was first published over ten years ago; in its various evolutions it has now been published 10 or 11 times, including the UK, where, unlike any of your work, it got high praise from John Jenkins. It also won an academic literary award in 2006 for the year’s best creative nonfiction. The editor of the “Harvard Review” said: “Although we do not have a place for your work in the upcoming issue, we thought your nonfiction essay stood out from the rest of the crowd.” Arkansas Review (Janelle Collins wrote: I found your submission, “Show Us, Mr. Faulkner,” a fascinating read … It’s well written and witty. And a fine reminder that journals exist because of writers and that each submission deserves the resepct of a careful reading.” In closing I want to thank you for adding to my celebrity, because of course the second best thing is good press, the best thing is bad! Just ask Charlie Sheen. Go to Temple and talk to someone, you’ll feel better about yourself. Oh, and by the way, how many of your essays have been published ten times? Love ya, sweetie, say hi to your wife, GD

GD,

Thanks for stopping by and sharing more of your wisdom with my readers. Taking the time out of the busy writing schedule your alter egos and pseudonyms are having, and all that.

Clearly my shallow attack on your person has failed. In my inadequate attempt to warp and subvert the meaning of your essay I foolishly linked to your actual essay. My idol FJ (whoever that is) will be sorely disappointed in me.

I’m glad to hear that you’ve had more success in shopping around your essay than your fiction. Having it published 10 or 11 times in as many years must’ve been quite a feat. Especially in the UK. Personally, I was only published in the UK once and I humbly concede that getting paid in Pound Sterling is quite nice.

I should have known better than to express my disagreement with your assertions on my blog. I’m definitely outmatched. From a mere 1000 word “rant” you’ve been able to draw conclusions about my political affiliation, religious beliefs and state of mind. If I could jump to conclusions like that perhaps one day I’d be eligible for an academic literary award, too.

I was especially impressed with the rejection letters you quoted to prove that you wrote a good essay. It was easy to convince me since I, too, stated in my “rant” that your essay was well-written. I had no issues at all with the style or wit of your article.

My issue was with the fact that you put your name on other authors’ work.

My issue was with you wasting the time of editors and slush readers and then calling them out for a totally subjective and personal decision of rejecting the manuscripts you sent them, under false pretenses.

And my biggest issue was with your conclusion that the system is rigged and that you can’t (or at least aren’t likely to) get published based purely on the merit of your writing. I strongly disagree with this assertion, which is why I chose to discuss your essay on my blog.

You did not address any of these points in your reply, choosing instead to concentrate on “winning” the debate, Charlie Sheen style, the crux of your argument being that I’m a nobody, and how dare I speak out.

Oh, and I actually feel quite good about myself, thanks for asking.

Alex

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15 Responses to From The Desk of Mr. McFetridge

  1. Thanks for sharing Alex 😀 I great read that had me chuckling frequently.

  2. Ah, nothing like a good ol’-fashioned flame war. 😉

    “FJ” appears to be F. J. Bergmann, the poetry editor of Mobius. She wrote up a rebuttal of his piece which was run on Mobius alongside a piece by the executive editor of Mobius in support of “Show Us…” (Both of these reaction pieces can be found in links on this page: http://mobiusmagazine.com/comment.html)

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Ahhh. Nice detective work, sir!

      I kept trying to think of politicians/conservative philosophers with those initials, in line with GD’s republican comment.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Wow, Alex! Good comeback to a nasty note. I’m surprised that Mr. McFetridge would be so venomous in his attack. I mean, as he mentions, bad press is still press, and it’s not like you’re the only one who disagrees with him.

    Mr. M., if you’re reading this, I’m a Nobody too, so please feel free to click away. I thought the original essay was interesting and well-written other than the one spelling error. (Maybe that’s why he’s so mad, Alex, because you pointed it out.) It’s certainly not the first time that someone pulled the prank that Mr. M. did, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

    Personally, in general I think things are rarely black and white. I believe most things are a shade of grey including what it takes to get published. I agree with Mr. M. to a certain extent–I’m sure there’s plenty of shenanigans that goes on in editors’ and publishers’ offices just like in EVERY OTHER PROFESSION. However, that being said, I’ve always subscribed to Calvin Coolidge’s philosophy,

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    So, in conclusion, I lean towards Alex’s view of the world and that hard work will get you (me) published….eventually. What shocks me the most about Mr. M.’s reply is the vicious and hateful tone. Personally, I’d be thrilled if people were discussing my essay all over the net. I think you hit a nerve, Alex, when you (and several others) mentioned that most people who complain about not getting published are the ones who need to look in the mirror and improve their writing and submit more.

    Before closing, I would like to draw attention to Mr. M.’s thinly veiled anti-semitic remark. Has everyone noticed that? Where he tells Alex to “go to Temple and talk to someone”. If you’re reading this Mr. F., what makes you so sure that Alex is Jewish? Shvarts comes from the German schwartz meaning Black. Do you think all persons of German lineage are Jews? And so what if he is? What does that have to do with the price of rice in China? It sure sounds to me like what you dislike the most about Alex’s essay is the *possibility* that a JEW would contradict him. Oh Heavens!

    That anti-semitic remark is not lost on me, and I *am* Jewish. So if you must, Mr. M., then lampoon me too. Big mistake Mr. M. Now, you have not only enraged a lot of the editors and publishers in the big bad world, but you have enraged a lot of your potential readers as well. I wouldn’t buy any of your work, Mr. F., if it was the last reading material on earth.

    Just ignore him, Alex. He thinks he’s King Shit of Turd Island.

    Your friend, a Jewish Nobody,
    Cynthia

    P.S. Mr. M., ess drek und shtarbn.

  4. Wow. Thanks for the great entertainment, Alex!

  5. Hi Alex,

    Your idol F.J. here. I’ve said all I want to say on the Mobius commentary page about the quality of McF’s prank, but was interested to see that he had taken you to be Jewish. Despite the Germanic last name, Bergmann–actually my husband’s–neither of us are of Jewish descent, as far as we know, either. In a vitriolic, ad-hominem private reply to my rebuttal, McFetridge called me a “Jewish Princess”–and clearly meant it as a term of opprobrium. I think that Cynthia’s perception of him as anti-Semitic is right on the money.

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      Hi F.J.,

      It’s nice to meet you. Now I know whose cohort I am 🙂

      For the record I am, in fact, Jewish. I grew up in the Soviet Union and my native language is Russian, but I’m Jewish by descent and nationality. I shrugged off the temple comment because it was about as far “out there” as other parts of GD’s comment, but hearing now that it’s not the first time GD used a vaguely antisemitic remark against someone he happens to disagree with makes me think even less of him now. (Yes, somehow that’s possible.)

      I read your insightful comments at Mobius with great interest. I also sent an e-mail to the editor of Mobius when I posted my comments, providing the link to my post and inviting him to use it as part of the discussion on his site, if he so chooses.

  6. K.S. Clay says:

    Mr. McFetridge confuses me. Wasn’t the original essay about how the literary establishment’s decisions to publish work and their awards and accolades had nothing to do with merit? So why does he brag about the number of times his essay has been published and the comments it’s been given in the literary community as if that says something about its merit?

  7. Samuel says:

    This was entertaining. I don’t know who G.D. McFetridge is, but I don’t like him if his comments are any indication of his personality–vastly illogical, egotistical and venomous. Now I want to read the other stuff you wrote about his essay…

  8. G. D. McFetridge says:

    I have the impression that I’ve confronted some sort of club or clan of like-minded individuals. As per any assertions that I am anti-semitic, my grandmother’s genome is well-peopled with DNA of Jewish orgin. Beyond that, I find it odd that SUMF was around for over a decade and never drew any particular attacks until it appeared in Mobius. A few things proceeded that event. First of which was FJ’s (the poetry editor at Mobius) aggressive assertion that I had taken my excerpt from a screenplay, and she told me it was “bullshit.” Which is another way of saying, I was bullshit When proven wrong about the excerpt, a blow to her ego, I suspect, FJ threatened that if I didn’t rewrite or edit the essay according to her satisfaction, she was going to retaliate. I responded accordingly. In the matter of Alex, his attack on SUMF was not much different than FJ’s, leading me to conclude he was acting in concert with her. Alex did not appraoch the essay in its full scope. He took certain aspects and attacked them without factoring in the total picture, and his attack had an overtone that assaulted me as a person. Something I had never done to him. I have always looked at the essay as a large prank (which I say in the essay) that caught a few people with their pants down. For those of you who remain naive, America is a place where the top 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million. If you think that the larger aspect of the literary world is any different … well, go ahead and hate the messenger. In any case, if any of you want to discuss this with me, here’s my cell phone number 406-369-3517. Please call after 9 mountain time or on the weekend so I don’t run up too many minutes. If all you do is attack me at a great distance, then I’m left to conclude that you are cowards. Call me. You too, Alex. Let’s talk and find out what happens. If you continue attacking from within the safety of the Internet, then I’m not interested in what you have to say. That’s that. GD

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      GD,

      I didn’t know FJ, nor read her article, at the time when I wrote mine. Likewise, some of the people who commented on our exchange are not people I know personally. Is it so difficult to accept that completely unrelated people might hold an opinion that is different from your own, and express it independently of each other?

      As to no one speaking out prior to your essay’s publication on Mobius–could it be that the previous publications were in places that did not reach as great a number of people? I did a cursory Google search for the title of your essay just now, and none of its iterations prior to Mobius have appeared on the first three pages of results returned by the search engine. Personally, I found your essay because it was linked to by someone I follow on Twitter. I clicked on the link, read it, and wrote my comments before realizing that FJ and Fred Schepartz wrote responses of their own. I linked to the original text of your essay in my rebuttal, so that readers could draw their own conclusions instead of relying solely on my own opinion.

      I’m sorry that you felt that my disagreeing with your actions was a personal attack. It wasn’t. You yourself admit that what you did was a prank. I felt that such a prank wasn’t appropriate and did not produce the conclusions you claimed in the article. Which is very different from a personal attack, at least in my book.

      You write: “…she (FJ) told me it was “bullshit.” Which is another way of saying, I was bullshit.” This is a very telling line. You’re viewing an argument against your work as a personal affront, which must be a very difficult position to take for someone who creates content. Anyone who has had their fiction or art reviewed by critics or has participated in a critique group would have been exposed to harsher criticism than what I presented in my blog post.

      I’m probably the last person you want advice from, but you would do well to avoid knee-jerk, disparaging personal attacks on anyone who happens to disagree with you–be that FJ, me, or Joe Ponepinto. Had you chosen to defend your opinions and actions in a professional manner, I’m certain that the level of discourse would have been different.

      You say that you’re interested in leveling the playing field and equalizing access for everyone. If that’s the case, you should hardly blame people for posting on the Internet, where anyone can make their opinions known regardless of their social or financial status and where those opinions remain, for the entire world to access and judge. Posting one’s opinion on the Internet is not cowardice–it’s democracy.

      Alex

    • Chris says:

      Whoever you are, you’re coming across as a whiny, entitled brat. No wonder you can’t get published.

    • Samuel Mae says:

      Surely you must be a comedian, Mr McFet. Because you, sir, are hilarious.

      Your cell phone number? Call after 9pm so i don’t run up too many minutes? If you don’t you’re a coward? ROFL

      I bet if somebody did call you and taped the conversation, it’d be very interesting to listen to. Because the only reason i can see for someone to wish to conduct a discussion of this nature in private (especially when the subject matter being discussed is all public–which was *your* choice, might i add, what with you agreeing for your essay to be published on the internet, which is by its very nature a public place) is to be abusive without witnesses.

      Oh, and paragraph breaks are your friend. Big walls of text kill brain cells! Jus’ sayin’.

    • Steven Kory says:

      As a writer Mr. GD, shouldn’t you above all be for peoples first amendment rights and freedom of speech? Just because someone does not agree with the assessment of your article does not mean that they are wrong for voicing their own opinion. After all, your essay is mostly your opinion and it got you published, what 10, 11 times?

      As far as your grandmother being “well-peopled with DNA of Jewish origin” I am not sure I would brag about my grandmother being well-peopled more times then you have been published. But, as I said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

      I must admit, I was never published, nor do I want to be. I am not a writer, but getting 1 essay published over the past 10 years or so suggests to me that either you have been real busy and had no time to write something new or that whatever you have written since has not been up to par. Maybe your first essay was good, maybe it got through the slush pile to the editor and got published in some magazines over the last ten years, but lets admit that even a broken clock is right twice a day, and those numbers seem a lot better to me then once a year.

      In closing, I am glad you decided to post your cell phone number here on the internet for everyone to see. Personally I don’t think that’s the brightest idea, but as you said you would take any publicity, good or bad, as long as someone hears your name. Maybe it means you’re not forgotten. Guess it’s been a while since your essay was last published and you were slipping into obscurity again.

  9. G. D. McFetridge says:

    Hey Alex, pick up the Spring 2013 issue of “Confrontation,” out of the University of Long Island. I’m right in your neighborhood. You and your minions can read my story “Ruby Lake.” You can afford 12 bucks can’t you? Send a copy to F.J. while you’re at it. But in any case, you’re a literary giant and I want to be just like you! Your pen pal, GD

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