An Ellyn Von Huben has chosen to apply for the First Things junior fellowship on her blog rather than go the conventional route.

Allow me to reply in an equally unconventional manner.

Dear Ms. and/or Mrs. Von Huben:

Your application has been received. I found it both frightening and entertaining, just like lunch at TGI Friday’s. Your work in a steel mill and as an amateur plumber is exactly what is needed here. (You wouldn’t happen to know know anything about sand blasting, would you?)

Unfortunately, it is your writing “experience” that troubles me.

First of all, I know I have seen “Please Close Door Firmly Behind You” before—and from other authors. We frown on plagiarism here at FT.

As for “All Rectory Visitors Should Use Front Door,” I’m afraid I was intrigued by the opening but found that the middle sagged, the characters were self-absorbed and “thin,” and the apocalyptic ending was strained. (I find this to be very common in so much of modern literature.)

That you abandoned your first love, the Cedarburg Lutheran parish, with a precipitate violence that has left its congregants reeling to this day is nothing short of criminal. I’d have you arrested if I weren’t busy working my way through my fifth cup of coffee.

And writing that paper for your child betrays a dishonesty not seen in academia since I submitted The House of the Seven Gables as my term paper for eighth grade English—only to receive a B- for a supposedly “feigned style.” (My teacher also claimed to have counted only six gables, but he was, by all accounts, a moron.)

A bachelor’s in art history earned in the 1970s does your cause no good either. Four years looking at soup cans and blank canvases is no way to squander an education. Four years in film school watching the “cinema” of Douglas Sirk and being told it was a coded critique of the Franco-Prussian War—now that’s a way to squander an education!

You also misspelled the editor’s name. You spelled mine correctly, however, so I’m willing to let bygones by bygones.

Nevertheless, I must reject your application for the junior fellowship with extreme prejudice. (Please feel free to apply for the managing editor’s job.)

Sincerely,
Anthony Sacramone

Articles by Anthony Sacramone

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