|Post a Rejection Letter Friday
||[Jul. 11th, 2008|10:06 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
Over at ktempest, it has been declared Post a Rejection Letter Friday, in response to someone telling her it was illegal/immoral to do so, which in turn was in response to a rejection letter someone got and made public that called Arabs "towel-heads." Or something. It's a whole kerfuffle. Obviously, I fall on the side of the issue that says it's not only okay to make your rejection letters public but one really ought to if the letter contains such rampant bigotry. I think other writers have a right to know which editors they may not want to work with, because sometimes, as with the Bad Moon Books situation, it really is about the company you keep.
However, none of my rejection letters are suitably hilarious to share with you here, so I'm reaching back into history, with the help of Andre Bernard's brilliant non-fiction book Rotten Rejections: A Literary Companion, for some of the best of the best. Or best of the worst, depending on how you look at it.
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen - "We are willing to return the manuscript for the same (advance) we paid for it."
Crash, J.G. Ballard - "The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help."
The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Pierre Boulle - "A very bad book."
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck - "Regret the American public is not interested in anything on China."
Under the Moons of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs - "It is not at all probable, we think, that we can make use of the story of a Virginia soldier of fortune miraculously transported to Mars."
The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain - "I think it is only a matter of time before you reach out into more substantial efforts that will be capable of making some real money as books."
Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser - "Immoral and badly written...the choice of your characters is unfortunate...not the best kind of book for a young author to make his first book."
Sanctuary, William Faulkner - "Good God, I can't publish this. We'd both be in jail."
The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank - "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level."
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame - "The form of the story is most unexpected."
The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass - "It can never be translated."
The Blessing Way, Tony Hillerman - "If you insist on rewriting this, get rid of all that Indian stuff."
Animal Farm, George Orwell - "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A."
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde - "It contains unpleasant elements."
I love that last one. Unpleasant elements. Ah well, at least it doesn't have any of that awful Indian stuff!
I don't know if Bernard's Rotten Rejections is still in print, but if you can find a copy, snag it pronto. It's not only very funny, it's a superb reminder that even the greatest writers had to pay their dues before hitting it big.