Calling all would-be Gordon Lishes. A high-brow publishing house is seeking new interns. Job requirements include working for free, having no life, and keeping your mouth shut. So, you know, your soul.
The Dalkey Archive Press—conspicuously absent from Book Business magazine's list of best publishers to work for—wants to expand its London office. Describing the opening they posted on their website as "sternly worded" would be euphemistic. Don't bother applying if your cousin is about to get hitched in Brazil, because they're only considering candidates who:
... do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.)
Still reading? Well, considering how grim publishing professionals' prospects are these days, maybe you are. If you really want this job, be prepared to get fired over any of the following infractions:
... coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies.
After the literary Internet spiralled into book-nerd rage over his post, Dalkey director John O’Brien clarified that he was just kidding—sort of. "The advertisement was a modest proposal," O'Brien told The Irish Times's Laurence Mackin, fancying himself something of a Jonathan Swift (others might go with "troll"). "I certainly have been called an 'asshole' before, but not as many times within a 24-hour period," says O'Brien, who has an exceedingly low opinion of interns:
I’ve seen so many applications to Dalkey in which CVs list upwards of six internships, which tend to smack of ‘we looked, we evaluated, and didn’t think the person was good enough to keep’. And my 25 years of experience with interns has been very mixed: the most common problem being that they aren’t prepared, don’t know what to expect, hope that a job might be at the end of the rainbow, and yet don’t have a clue as to what an employer is looking for.
The intern hunt might be hilarious to O'Brien, but the proprietor of the @DalkeyIntern parody Twitter isn't laughing. They're too hungry to laugh:
My only friend is getting married in Rio this weekend. Wish I could be there.— Dalkey Intern (@DalkeyIntern) December 13, 2012
Who needs money or food? How petty and bourgeois. All I need is oxygen, avant-garde literature, and the constant threat of unemployment.— Dalkey Intern (@DalkeyIntern) December 13, 2012
Now I just need to find a way of poisoning the other interns. Or maybe wait for them to starve to death. I can't afford poison.— Dalkey Intern (@DalkeyIntern) December 13, 2012
I kind of hoped this job would be more like that nice film Secretary with James Spader.— Dalkey Intern (@DalkeyIntern) December 13, 2012
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.