"But breaking into the New York literary world was tougher than he had expected. His short story collection was turned down by 38 literary agents. 'I was writing to impress people, and it turns out that when you do that, you write very unimpressive prose,' he said."
From the August 26, 2016, New York Times story: Nathan Hill Is Compared to John Irving. Irving Compares Him to Dickens. Written by Alexandra Alter.