Virginia Quarterly Review managing editor Kevin Morrissey killed himself. Sad, as is every suicide – and sad too that his boss, VQR editor Ted Genoways, neither found a way to understand the depth of Morrissey’s troubles, nor got him the help he needed. But is Genoways somehow responsible for Morrissey’s death – and, by extension, does Morrissey’s suicide somehow show that VQR, as an endeavor, is rotten through and through? Such is the suggestion of this excruciatingly irresponsible Chronicle of Higher Education article on the tragedy, which suggests that Genoways, in effect, pushed Morrissey to the brink, because Morrissey got in the way of his (supposedly) craven, selfish efforts to win both glory and lucre – in the form of effectively off-budget institutional funding – for VQR.
I won’t go into the details either of Morrissey’s sad story, or the Chronicle’s effort to spin it into something else – read the thing if you want, and you’ll get both. I’ll say only that the article’s appearance shows that the culture of the Chronicle, like that of other institutions in both higher education and literary publishing, is permeated by reflexive envy toward the successful, especially those who’ve succeeded by non-traditional means. Not to mention the deep desire to cut the successful down to size, which is to say, to force them both to suffer, and spend their careers pushing paper, serving on pointless committees, and publishing to gather credentials, rather than to reach readers. As those these endeavors were the natural lot of academics, and publishers – and as if you can’t be either, without devoting yourselves to same.