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Everything wrong with publishing: Scott Stossel of The Atlantic

This is years in the making. It's ultimately a story about sabotage, lies, cowardice, and discrimination. There will be multiple entries on this journal walking through everything as it pertains to The Atlantic, and, in this specific case--again, this is but the first entry--one Scott Stossel, formerly the editor, now the national editor, a position invented for him so that he could be kept on. This was someone who dangled a job in front of my face, then torpedoed me. This is a coward, a plotter, a saboteur. A weak, small man in every way, but most of all, morally. Someone who moved to take a short story of mine, which was then returned to me. I will be thorough. I will explain all of that, in exacting detail. I've tried to avoid things coming to this point for years now, going back to 2018. Those long walks I take, for twenty miles? I'm thinking about someone like Scott Stossel and a venue like The Atlantic and what I should do after every last recourse has been taken from me. Where I know, and they know, what has been done is so wrong. I think about what to do. To do nothing? To die in poverty and anonymity? To let these people get away with what they're doing? I can't do that. I have to live with myself, for starters. And I have so much to give this world, and will give this world, in time, even as people like this try to stop that from happening. I'll begin by pasting in a letter I wrote to Scott Stossel. After all of these years of trying not have it come to this. Extending every last chance to do the right thing, and stop with the twisted behavior. It was a letter that he did not reply to. So, after all of this time, here we are. Keep in mind, I wrote for The Atlantic for years. I'll flesh out the context later, and other people are a part of this story, too. For now, the letter can speak for itself, and get this account started.


I'm going through a lot of old emails today, and I'm seeing the total and obvious freeze-out from The Atlantic. Do you remember when you threatened me by saying that if I told the truth about what had happened on my blog, you'd make sure that I never wrote for The Atlantic again? Do you recall that? I have the email right here.

It seems to me that you've essentially done that already. Or, really, if you haven't, what's the difference?

I've been offering masterpieces here. Fiction masterpieces. And I've never stopped sending great nonfiction ideas. For the print magazine. For the website.

Now there is nobody who is going to think, "hmmm, this guy, who wrote for this place so often, who publishes so much, who is clearly an expert on much, is clearly a unique writer and mind, isn't good enough for anything with that Atlantic. He must have gotten worse."

You also called me a thug. Do you remember that? I'm not going to sit back and be discriminated against. I don't want to take to the blog. Remember that email you wrote me about how your kids would be taught my work in school? It's not like your kids were two when you sent that.

I've done nothing to you or to anyone at that venue. I've tried and tried and tried, to give people the chance to make it right. I've been kind to you, man. Remember the note I sent you when your dad died? And that was after everything.

You have masterpieces there in "Fitty," "Girls of the Nimbus," "Fetch and Ferry," "Pillow Drift," "Transitionings," and many others. You have to know that I know the people who are having their work run with you. Right? You have to know I know how it's getting in. Do I even need to talk about the quality of the music ideas, the arts ideas, film ideas, sports ideas, I've sent? Obviously not.

Please. Do not make me do what it seems like you're bent on having me do. Please. I am not a confrontational person. But this is so wrong, and you know it is.

Do you remember when you called me on the phone and called me a generalist? Remember what you said? "You know better than anyone that it's hard to be a generalist right now." Do I? I know what it's like to be this thing I am clearly, axiomatically not? As the person who is the leading expert on these various things? That's not a what a generalist is. Like I'm some dabbler? I'm Johnny Updike who knows a few things about a lot of things but mostly BS'es? Does that ever sound like me in my pieces? Do you think my Sam Cooke book reads like it was written by a generalist? Do I sound like a generalist in the hundreds of radio interviews I give?

I don't want to be sending you a splenetic letter, and I don't think that's what this is. I know you grapple with anxiety. I am sure I increase your anxiety. It's never what I want to do. I just want to be treated fairly and to move forward.

I am putting on a couple more stories. One of them, "Minus the Spring," I don't even remember writing, but an author you publish told me today that it was one of the best things they'd ever read. Why don't I remember it? Because it's from a few weeks ago and I write so much.

But believe me, I remember "Fitty," "Nimbus," "Transitionings," "Fetch and Ferry," and I know what they are compared to that Paul Yoon MFA puffery. And don't think I don't know how Yoon got that story to run there.

I don't think you're some malevolent guy, Scott. I don't think you're the bravest guy, but we both know how f---ed up this is. I can't even get a good faith response on a pitch? For a web piece that pays $200? Come on, man.


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