Dear Carl,

Thank you for sending “Papa’s Cheese” to our reading team at Fig Leaf Review. We read it very carefully and are grateful that you were willing to trust us with your work. However, the acceptance letter that you received two days ago was a horrible, horrible mistake.

In an unlikely twist, it turns out that we actually received submissions from two writers named Carl. The other Carl sent us “The Pig’s Head,” a particularly unsettling psychological horror that takes place on a farm just days before foreclosure. It’s only 7 pages, but somehow he has given us what feels like a family saga, coming of age story, and edge-of-the-seat mystery all at once.

When we sent you the initial response letter, describing “a story like a deep gash, revealing what was underneath the skin all this time,” we were referring to the other Carl’s short masterpiece and how he portrays the American nightmare with such stunning viscerality. We were not, in fact, talking about “Papa’s Cheese,” which goes on for about 14 pages too long, has no clear thematic developments, and features a grown man saying “Daddy” too much for our own personal comfort. Please understand that this is not a reflection on the quality of your writing. We receive hundreds of submissions for each period, and many great stories have to be declined.

While we are sorry that we could not find a place for your sprawling, surreal, and unintentionally sexual story about a father and son slicing up cheese sometime between the years 1750 and 2008, we invite you to take advantage of the discount that we offer all of our prospective writers, as gratitude for considering us. If you use the Code “FIGLEAF20” at checkout, you can buy a copy of Fig Leaf Review for 40% off and see why the other Carl is must-read literature.

We think that you will love “The Pig’s Head,” which features rambling Faulkneresque prose and a one-of-a-kind exploration of the human condition that makes “Papa’s Cheese” look like child’s play. The other Carl truly is “The Alpha Carl.” This, of course, is by no means a statement about your writing ability—stories are accepted or declined for a variety of reasons, including whether or not they suit the theme or tone of a particular issue.

Lastly, as head editor, I would like to personally apologize again for this unfortunate misunderstanding and any inconvenience it may have caused you. Generally, Fig Leaf Review does not write personal rejection letters. But we appreciated the enthusiasm you showed in your surprisingly well-written 900-word response to the initial acceptance letter so much that I felt compelled to make sure you got a proper explanation.

The explanation is a simple one—we got the wrong Carl. Someone fucked it up real bad. We had an impromptu staff meeting at 1:00 in the morning where we discussed if we wanted to save face by publishing your story or admit the crucial error. We unanimously chose to own up to our mistake, because it is our belief that after 27 years of printing the best literary fiction around, publishing “Papa’s Cheese” would have tarnished Fig Leaf Review’s reputation beyond repair, ending the literary journal as we know it. This is not an attack on your writing talent—the story just simply wasn’t the right fit. Thank you for considering us, and best of luck to finding a publisher for this story elsewhere.

Fig Leaf Review