Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Verity here. Every now and then I cheer myself up by going and having a look at some notes I made from a book entitled the Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. I hope it’s still in print…

LEWIS CARROLL’s Alice in Wonderland  – ‘A stiffly overwrought story’
JOSEPH HELLER’s Catch 22 – (in the New York Times Book Review) – ‘It gasps for want of craft and sensibility…there is nothing here to appease a reader’s basic literary needs.’
PROUST’s  Swann’s Way – ‘I can’t see why a chap should need 30 pages to describe how he turned over in bed before going to sleep.’
NABAKOV’s Lolita – ‘A wild neurotic daydream that should have been buried for a thousand years.’
GEORGE ORWELL’s Animal Farm – ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’
UPTON SINCLAIR’s The Jungle – ‘Fit only for the wastebasket.’
W.B.YEATS – ‘The work does not please the ear, does not kindle the imagination.’
LE CARRÉ –  The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – ‘You’re welcome to Le Carre – he hasn’t got any future.’
T.S ELIOT’s The Wasteland  (in The New Statesman) – ‘Mr Eliot has shown that he can at moments write real blank verse; but that is all. For the rest he has quoted a great deal, he has parodied and imitated. But the parodies are cheap and the imitations inferior.’
STEINBECK’s Of Mice and Men (in Time) – ‘An oxymoronic combination of the tough and the tender (which would appeal to) sentimental cynics and cynical sentimentalists.’
GUNTER GRASS's The Tin Drum – ‘One feels like a zoologist who discovers some monstrous unrecorded mammal gobbling leaves.’
WILLIAM FAULKNER’s As I Lay Dying (in The New York Times Book Review) – ‘…a high place in an inferior category.’
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT’s Madame Bovary (in Le Figaro ) – ‘Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.’
LEO TOLSTOY’s Anna Karenina – ‘Sentimental rubbish…show me one page that contains an idea.’
TRUMAN CAPOTE’s In Cold Blood – 'This isn’t writing. It’s research.’

…And now that you’re all feeling REALLY cheerful, take off those rabbit ears and get back to that writing desk! Mush! Mush!

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