Everything wrong with publishing: William Staley of The New York Times Magazine

Friday 7/1/22

William Staley is the editor of The New York Times Magazine's Letter of Recommendation column. This column appears once a week, so there are about fifty of them a year. The premise is simple: a writer recommends something. It can be a book, a record, a food, a routine, a belief, a practice, a sport, a phrase, an exercise regimen. It can be anything. There has to be some personal tie-in. It's not an outright critical piece, for instance, and the thinking is that there will be some aspect of relatable wisdom, insight, perspective, guidance. This will be the first entry in these pages on William Staley. This letter speaks for itself.


Just wanted to let you know that I will now be exposing you for the bigot that you are on my blog. This went on for almost a decade. As I published thousands of pieces, and many books, displaying my ability, expertise, mastery, range, over and over and over again, achieving more in a week than many of the people who write for you do in years, with all of their cronyism and nepotism and these sick little publishing sinecures. As you commissioned pieces on gum. And rabbits. (Brilliant stuff, by the way. Do you actually think, "Well, that piece on gum, that was a real corker. Fine prose that was. Important piece. That'll get people thinking! Entertaining, too.") And hooked up the people who had connections to you. People who have done nothing. Who offer nothing. Who have nothing to say. Whose prose is as limp and otiose as your decision-making skills and sense of equity.

I know these people, their careers, their writing--the little of it that there often is--and I have done my homework, as I am sure I strike you as a man who is going to be thorough. I told you--which is to say, I gave you fair warning and miles of rope, to the point of taking your blatant bigotry for years--several years ago, that this day was coming if you didn't treat me the way I deserved to be treated based upon my abilities and the work I do, and the quality of the ideas I gave you. Want to try and deny my qualifications? And you are so arrogant, and insecure, and plainly jealous of someone who is everything you could never be, that you just continued with that discrimination, as I, being the industrious, good-natured person that I am, kept my head down and simply kept trying with one excellent idea after another, while you hooked up people I write circles around. There is no objective third party on earth who will think I was not ridiculously over-qualified to write one of these simple pieces recommending something. Want to put all of the ideas together--because I have--and show people? You have no valid defense that a single unbiased person will believe. "Wasn't the right idea, nope, not in nine plus years." "Writing skills weren't up to par." People are going to laugh at you. And know you for what you are.

I even suggested ideas to other writers, as an experiment, and you assigned them. So long as it wasn't my name at the top. If it was, you wouldn't respond, save that time you thought I might publicly reveal your behavior. That was years ago. And again, you are so arrogant and entitled, that you thought you could continue with your axiomatic discrimination. So more years went by, because I never want things to come to this. I am not a confrontational man. But you leave me no choice. I am not going to sit back and be the willing victim of bigotry. That is not within the moral purview, the principles, or the dictates of self-respect of the person I am, and it sure is hell is not how I'm going to let my work be treated indefinitely. I never did anything to you. I did nothing "wrong." I wrote great work and gave you great ideas. I gave you every chance, even as we both knew what you were doing. And now you will be exposed on a blog that many people see each day.

Perhaps you've heard about the blog. Some of your cronies have been on there, haven't they? And this is fun: that first entry on you will be but the first. I've gathered years and years of information pertaining to your guilt and how corrupt you are. And I won't stop until there is accountability and justice.

Hubris, ignorance, jealousy, incompetence, pointlessness, and bigotry is a bad combination. In the spirit of the section you edit, I wouldn't recommend it.