Friday, 13 January 2012

For Aspiring Editors

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Young novelist William Saroyan dreamed of one day editing a magazine, and so in 1936 sought advice on that very aspiration from the great H. L. Mencken, a hugely influential man who had, in the 1920s, founded and edited his own title.

Saroyan sent him a polite letter. Mencken responded with the priceless reply seen below.

(Source: The New Mencken Letters; Image: H.L. Mencken, courtesy of Enoch Pratt Free Library.)

25 January, 1936
San Fransisco, California

Dear Saroyan,

I note what you say about your aspiration to edit a magazine. I am sending you by this mail a six-chambered revolver. Load it and fire every one into your head. You will thank me after you get to hell and learn from other editors there how dreadful their job was on earth.

(Signed, 'H.L. Mencken')