I have to admit I'm somewhat heartened by David Cameron's recent piece in The Review Review in which he conducts an experiment, taking a story published in The New Yorker, changing the name, and blanket-submitting it to "a slew of literary journals." Not one of the journals to which he submitted accepted the story, including The New Yorker itself.
I'm heartened not necessarily (OK, maybe a little bit) by what this ostensibly says about The New Yorker, but rather what it says about the reliability of first reads in determining literary worth and publishability. It hurts to be rejected in any sphere, much more in those spheres we consider ours, and it's easy to take those rejections personally. I've had a pretty good year of publications, which means I've only gotten an average of six rejections for every acceptance. And every rejection hurts, perhaps even more so when it seems like the reader didn't even read my piece past the first page.
But, having been an editor at Hunger Mountain Journal of the Arts for a couple years now, I know that many editorial decisions are made not necessarily or entirely on the merits of the worth, but on how the piece fits within the edition and/or aesthetic I'm currently working on, and I'm also aware of (and thankful for!) the fact that any piece I'm looking at has been vetted by one of our small army of slush-pile readers, each of whom has his or her own viewpoints and predilections on what makes a piece of writing publishable.
This is all to say that, yes, Cameron's piece is funny, because yes, it's true.