If there are benefits in being the trailing unemployed partner of a “real” academic who makes a good wage, one is that I needn’t abide by the rules of good behaviour. I’m not part of the game, it looks like I’ll never have a continuing position, I don’t see how the academic world’s mores can apply to me. Case in point: to say that Fairly Well-Regarded Journal in American Literature is slow would be to correct only in relation to the glaciers that made my native Illinois prairie region so fertile.

I sent them my submission 1 September 2011. In late November I sent them an email that said “I’m losing my position, and email access, at University of Canterbury, could you please send all correspondence to the UC account and my gmail.” I waited. I sent them an email at the end of January, assuming that at some point in the five months they had my submission someone might have read it. But still I waited. Another email – for Valentine’s Day – drew no response. So I sent the piece off to a southern hemisphere journal, for though I may double submit I spread out the peer-to-review pool geographically. I wouldn’t want someone to put off reading the same article twice. As if by magic, FWRJiAL sent me an email this morning, so saturated with po-faced understatement that I wonder if its best translation is simply “fuck you”:

Please accept my apologies for sending you this very late confirmation.  This email confirms that your article submission for the Spring 2012 [FWRJiAL] has been received.  All article submissions for this the Spring 2012 issue are still being reviewed.  Notifications from editor are expected to be sent out in June 2012.  At this time, we are behind in our publishing schedule.  Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.

I take this to mean that it is quite possible that no one has read my submission yet. In five-plus months. With a northern hemisphere winter break in there. I appreciate that peer reviewers do it voluntarily, but if you’re not going to do it in less than six months, then make room for someone who will at least do it within four.

All this pissiness makes me wonder: How might I become a peer reviewer for a journal? I’m not particularly busy and I promise that I can read at least one article during the industry-standard six month review period. I won’t promise any more, because I’d hate to show up anyone. I don’t have any dog in the fight – I will simply perform the duty of peer reviewer: is this article good? is it worthy of publication? what would it take for it to be publication-worthy? If anyone’s interested, I’m an Americanist, mostly post-WWII film and lit. No poetry.

Note – this complaint does not apply to American Literary History. Gordon Hutner was a prince about my submission – he sent me excellent feedback twice. When I didn’t get the unanimous vote that is apparently necessary to get published, he wrote me to explain the decision and was in all ways excellent.

EDIT: amended after the red mist dissipated.