Garp was puzzled and he showed the rejection to Tinch. Tinch was also puzzled.
"I guess they're interested in n-n-newer fiction," Tinch said.
"What's that?" Garp asked.
Tinch admitted he didn't really know. "The new fiction in interested in language and f-f-form, I guess," Tinch said. "But I don't understand what it's really about it-it-itself, I think," Tinch said.
"About itself?" Garp said.
"It's sort of fiction about fi-fi-fiction," Tinch told him.
Garp still didn't understand, but what mattered to Garp was that Helen liked the story.
Almost fifteen years later, when Garp published his third novel, that same editor at Tinch's favorite magazine would write Garp a letter. The letter would be very flattering to Garp, and to his work, and it would ask Garp to submit anything new he might have written to Tinch's favorite magazine. But T. S. Garp had a tenacious memory and the indignation of a badger. He found the old rejection note that had called his Grillparzer story "only mildly interesting"; the note was crusty with coffee stains and had been folded so many times that it was torn at the creases, but Garp enclosed it with a letter to the editor at Tinch's favorite magazine. Garp's letter said:
I am only mildly interested in your magazine, and I am still doing nothing new with language, or with form. Thanks for asking me, though.