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The End of the World of Books

Photo: Leslie Strauss Travis/The Norman Maclean Reader

A lot of authors get rejected by publishers, but Norman Maclean, author
of A
River Runs Through It and Other Stories
found himself in a very unique position: he got to reject the publisher
Alfred A. Knopf, after being rejected himself!

Letters of Note has the eloquent letter that Maclean wrote:

Dear Mr. Elliott:

I have discovered that I have been writing you under false pretenses,
although stealing from myself more than from you. I have stolen from
myself the opportunity of seeing the dream of every rejected author
come true.

The dream of every rejected author must be to see, like sugar plums
dancing in his head, please-can’t-we-see-your-next-manuscript letters
standing in piles on his desk, all coming from publishing companies
that rejected his previous manuscript, especially from the more pompous
of the fatted cows grazing contentedly in the publishing field. I am
sure that, under the influence of those dreams, some of the finest fuck-you
prose in the English language has been composed but, alas, never published.
And to think that the rare moment in history came to me when I could
in actuality have written the prose masterpiece for all rejected authors
– and I didn’t even see that history had swung wide its doors
to me.

The letter ended with this gem:

… I can now only weakly say this: if the situation ever arose
when Alfred A. Knopf was the only publishing house remaining in the
world and I was the sole remaining author, that would mark the end of
the world of books.

Very sincerely,

Norman Maclean

Read the rest over at Letters of Note: Link

Post Metadata

April 17th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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