Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox, by Lee Klein


Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox, by Lee Klein


Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox compiles a dozen years of disappointment transmitted via e-mail from a single editor to  hundreds of writers around the world. Performative and funny one minute, respectful and constructive the next, these rejections both serve as entertaining writing tips (suitable for use in today’s more adventuresome creative writing classrooms) and suggest a skewed story about a boy and his seminal semi-literary website,, which Lee Klein founded in 1999.

What started as a lark—sending playful rejection notes to writers who’d submitted work for the site—over ten years took on a life of its own, becoming an outlet for Klein to meditate on his aesthetic preferences, the purpose of literature, and the space between the ideal and the real.

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Praise for Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck

Somewhere on the brutal truth continuum between Bill Hicks and Mussolini, Lee Klein’s rejection letters are mini-masterpieces of literary criticism disguised as no-thank-yous from Writer’s Hell. And yet, in each, a little lesson; a steadfast faith that says “I took the time to read what you created and this is exactly what I thought.” They should be passing these things out under the pillows at MFA camp; we’d all be better off. 

–Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year, and Sky Saw

Sometimes writers who succeed against the odds brag about the number of rejections they’ve accumulated. A rejection from Eyeshot’s Lee Klein is a whole different badge of honor. Like a letter from a serial killer on death row, your Tea Party inlaws, or the Pope, they’re suitable for framing and brilliantly repugnant. I kind of want to send him a really shitty story just so I can get one of these in return. 

–Ryan Boudinot, author of Blueprints of the Afterlife

To “decide” is to “cut,” and Lee Klein in the highly honed collection of rejections, Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck, wields a drawer full of gleaming cutlery, edgy edged instruments of decision. Surely, he holds his pen like a surgeon holds the scalpel. These serrated graphs of glee and screed are incisive incisions—katana, rattled sabers, sharp-tongued stilettos of the split-lipped kiss-off. 

–Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Four for a Quarter

Lee Klein made me cry. He was the only editor ever to make me. This was back in 2002. I wish I still had the email. I remember it going something like, “whenever you have the instinct to write a line like that, delete it immediately, without prejudice.” I hated him for a while. I pictured him looking like the guy in that 90’s movie Heavy (the one with Liv Tyler), except housebound and with no redeemable qualities. Then, somewhere around 2004, I met him “IRL” and he was soft-spoken and sweet. It was harder to hate him after that. Reading all of these rejection letters here in this book made me finally fall a little in love with him, I think. I think if I had had access to (and disassociation from) these letters then, I might have fallen in love with him then. This is the funniest book I have read in a long time. It is also the smartest. I feel confused now, like I’m unsure whether to love or hate Lee Klein. But both of us are married now so it doesn’t really matter.

–Elizabeth Ellen, author of Fast Machine

About Lee Klein

Lee Klein’s submissions to literary journals, sites, publishers, and agents have been rejected hundreds of times since he started single-handedly running the semi-literary site in 1999. (His writing has appeared in a few respectable spots, too, like The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007.) These days, he writes unpublishable novels and walks to and from work while reading hifalutin lit. He and his wife, their little baby daughter, cats, and books live in the Cheesesteak Gardens neighborhood of South Philadelphia.