Modern rejection letters for old classics

It’s proverbial that every great author could wallpaper a room with rejection letters for what turned out to be classics.  The joke is really on whichever idiot of an editor turned up his or her nose at a great money-making opportunity.  I’ve already had my rant about this when I described today’s literary scene and my decision to go my own way by self-publishing my own timeless contributions to literature (hee hee).

Now I’ll make up some imaginary rejection letters for the works I described in Itty Bitty Book Reviews.  (In truth, you’ll hardly ever get a reason why a manuscript got rejected, and nothing as candid as this, but work with me here.)  Surely most of them did get their share of rejection letters, but I’ll make up some new ones in step with the present day’s publishing industry.

Dear Mr. Gilgamesh,
Your Epic set in ancient Iraq is a very interesting premise.  However, you sent it in on clay tablets.  Please go to our website to review submission guidelines.  Surely a used typewriter, word processor, or computer doesn’t cost all that much.  You have better things to do with your time than scratching letters into mud, and quite frankly, our intern who gets first pass at the slush pile has better things to do with her time than try to make sense of it.

Dear Mr. Jehovah,
Part 1 of your Bible was quite a sweeping epic through ancient Levantine history.  However, part 2 really has a downer ending when the main character gets killed.  Granted, the story says he was doing this on the behalf of the salvation of humanity, but we feel that the public won’t find this the least bit inspiring.

Dear Rabbi Peloni,
Your commentaries on Jewish theology that you presented in The Talmud is more thorough than anything else I’ve ever seen.  However, if we printed all this stuff out, it would fill a bookshelf.  If you could cut it down to the size of the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary, we’ll have another look at it.

Dear St. Augustine,
Your Confessions is an interesting story of soul-searching, but really, have you tried seeing a psychiatrist for that guilt complex of yours?

Dear Prophet Muhammad,
The Quran is pretty powerful stuff, but I’m afraid it’s too powerful.  We consulted the legal department and they advise that it’s a no-go.  Some nut might take it a bit too seriously and blow up a building or something, and our publishing house could be held liable.  I’m sure it’s only a remote possibility, but those folks in Legal are pretty cautious.

Dear Mr. Milton,
Paradise Lost is an interesting premise, but poetry just doesn’t sell these days.  Besides, the language is really stilted.  Are you going blind or something?

Dear Mr. Smith,
Your Book of Mormon bored our intern so much that she said that it’s Xanax in print.  Further, I was a little baffled in your query letter about the future society you envision.  Magic underwear, really?

Dear Mr. Crowley,
About this Liber AL Vel Legis of yours, I regret to inform you that we don’t publish accounts of acid trips sold as divine revelations.

Dear Mr. Homer,
Your Iliad is too full of divine intervention tropes.  Good battle scenes, but the deus ex machina stuff is a little much.

Dear Mr. Homer,
Congratulations for plugging away with your writing.  Still, the subplot in The Odyssey about the wife of Odysseus seems pretty strange.  As my dutiful intern pointed out, in today’s feminist society, a woman doesn’t need a man, so the thing about her being pressured to choose a suitor would strike a sour note.

Dear Mr. Plato,
The Republic is quite an interesting thought experiment.  Still, everyone knows that reality is only a social construct. My intern was quite adamant about this when describing it to me.  Get with the times.

Dear Mr. Plato,
My intern informs me that The Laws sounds just a little too Fascist.  So sorry.

Dear Mr. Plato,
It’s too bad that your friend Socrates got killed.  However, nobody else cares.  I’ll have to deliver an Apology for my remark, if you’ll forgive me for being a smartass

Dear Mr. Plato,
The debate with Gorgias has its moments, but having the postmodernist lose that one will be poison to academic reviewers. My intern informed me that she was quite triggered.

Dear Mr. Plato,
I just looked over Euthyphro here.  I hate to break it to you, but philosophy just doesn’t sell these days.  Have you thought about another career?

Dear Mr. Dostoyevsky,
Crime And Punishment is an interesting premise.  In fact, it was so good that it made it to my desk, unlike most of the stuff that gets sent to the slush pile.  Unfortunately, the “hooker with a heart of gold” thing has been done to death by now.

Dear Mr. Dostoyevsky,
The Brothers Karamazov is quite a vivid depiction of that screwed-up family and small town life in Imperial Russia.  Unfortunately, you keep going with these tired tropes.  “The butler did it” – come on!

Dear Ms. Rand,
Personally, I thought We, The Living was pretty interesting, with the love triangle sub-plot and all.  Still, we’ll have to pass on it because you really beat this dead horse about how Communism is bad.  In fact, my intern sputtered with rage for the rest of the day about it.

Dear Ms. Rand,
I’m a little annoyed with you.  The Fountainhead seems to have more than a few swipes at cultural gatekeepers, and I don’t appreciate the personal insults.

Dear Ms. Rand,
What the hell are you doing?  The intern came to me in tears after reading Atlas Shrugged, saying she was triggered by your unflattering depiction of Social Justice Warriors.  She had to take a whole bar of Xanax over that one.  Fortunately, her doctor is a pushover and gives her unlimited refills.

Dear Ms. Rand,
Anthem shows that you’re finally learning something about how to write concisely.  still, your insinuations that collectivism is a bad thing is really not going to get you anywhere in publishing, with the possible exception of the science fiction market that has all too many libertarian author filibusters such as your own.  My intern threatened to quit if she read another one of your manuscripts, so please take your business elsewhere.

Dear Mr. Marx,
Hey, Chuck!  The intern was absolutely delighted with your Communist Manifesto.  (In fact, just between you and me and the wall, I could see her nipples poking out under her blouse as she breathlessly sung its praises.  I’d even be a little turned on if she didn’t have blue hair, all those piercings in her face, and more tattoos than your average biker.)  However, I’ll give you a word to the wise.  The entire media establishment is made up of six gigantic mega-conglomerates.  These types of organizations are the very ones you were denouncing.  So, unfortunately, our CEO pulled it at the last moment.  You can keep the advance though.  Buy yourself some furniture and a set of clothes for the family or something.

Dear Mr. Salinger,
Catcher In the Rye strikes me as the sort of book that would make some nut go out and shoot someone.  In fact, I wanted to shoot myself after reading it.  Keep trying, though.  The intern liked it, and was wistfully mumbling Kurt Cobain lyrics for the rest of the day.

Dear Mr. Roth,
I just finished Portnoy’s Complaint.  Wow, and I thought I masturbated a lot when I was a teenager!  We’re going to pass on this one, but good luck with your psychiatry sessions.  It appears you need them direly.

Dear Mr. King,
I reviewed the manuscript for Tommyknockers.  If you’d lay off the cappuccino and cut this one down to half its size, this will be a great book, I promise.

Dear Mr. Dawkins,
Not only is The Selfish Gene the most boring manuscript I’ve ever read in my entire life, I hate to inform you that this fellow by the name of Charles Darwin already wrote the ultimate treatise on how natural selection and survival of the fittest works.

Dear Mr. Eco,
We’re afraid that your conspiracy theory stuff in Foucault’s Pendulum is a little too grim, especially compared to the much livelier undertakings of Robert Anton Wilson.

Modern rejection letters for old classics

5 thoughts on “Modern rejection letters for old classics

  1. I love this! Did you see Jane Austen’s rejection slip?

    “Dear Miss Austen
    Where is the description of Elizabeth? Is her hair glossy chestnut or shimmering gold? The reader needs to be told, preferably in every scene. Do better next time.”


  2. […] 50 Shades of Grey, and politically correct garbage, while any Melville, Poe, Twain, or Faulkner wouldn’t stand a chance these days.  So Smashwords will always have my gratitude for helping to push the gatekeepers and […]


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