Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Talk of the town

The Village Voice has a story about a new site for freelance Talk of the Town submissions rejected by the New Yorker. A few of the writers have started a web site, silenceofthecity.com, to honor these rejections (emphasis on few: it's a small site right now). Some of the pieces on the site are pretty good, but the odds were against them being published from the start:
While it's certainly not impossible for a freelancer to crack Talk of the Town or other sections of the magazine, the odds are still pretty long. Susan Morrison says the section receives upwards of 100 pitches and submissions weekly, while only greenlighting about 10 unsolicited contributions per year. Over the years, she says, Talk's already sparse real estate has increasingly been taken up by the magazine's staff and contract writers. "These days," she says, "there just isn't that much space left after our own writers have written their stories." But every once in a while, a particularly enticing pitch comes over the transom and catches her eye. This was the case with a query by freelancer Erik Baard, whose story, in a recent issue, revealed that a rare and famous Revolutionary War–era painting of a black mariner is actually a clever forgery. The painting, which was slated to be featured at an exhibition at the Fraunces Tavern Museum dubbed "Fighting for Freedom: Black Patriots and Black Loyalists," was in fact a portrait of a white sailor that was at some point repainted to depict a black man, ostensibly to increase the painting's value.