Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Valley of the No's

Even Jacqueline Susann received some doozies. In 1966, one terribly miscalculating rejection of Valley of the Dolls said: "...She is painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia, writes wide-eyed romantic scenes that would not make back pages of True Confessions, hauls out every terrible show biz cliche in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart and allows her book to ramble aimlessly...most of the first 200 pages are virtually worthless and dreadfully dull and practically every scene is dragged out flat and stomped on by her endless talk..."

Phew. That is something.

8 comments:

Lee's River said...

Uh...dare I say it? From my vague recollection of the book, that reviewer sounded right on the money. Which only goes to prove that being an original, funny, disciplined and thoroughly professional writer does NOT = being a published best-selling author. I'll bear it in mind...

the individual voice said...

Now here's an example of an editor who did not know her market. What was she looking for, Vladimir Nabokov? The women who made this a bestseller wanted to read trash, trash, trash, trivia, show biz cliches, a rambling, aimless, chatty, book. With sex and drugs, which this prissy, prim literary editor seems to have missed.
It just goes to show, its the specific editor/agent your book meets that makes or breaks it.

Anonymous said...

All totally true, yet the book is somehow wonderful.

zumabitch said...

And was the genesis for a whole slew of future novels and miniseries full of "terrible show biz cliche" and other awkward no-no's themselves that made a few people very, very famous. And wealthy.

The Quoibler said...

I remember this book cover from my schoolgirl years. I never read the text, mind you, but I was truly scandalized by the COVER, if you can imagine! I just KNEW that it was gonna be bad. (But in a good, naughty way.) :)

Quoiberina

Jeremy Hatch said...

Another example of a skilled editor mistaking himself or herself for the target audience of the book. Whenever I do editorial consultations, I specifically ask the writer "who is the audience for this piece" and "do you see this as a genre piece" and other such questions, because otherwise I'm likely to make similar silly errors of judgment. In the absence of other info, I tend to assume that the writer is trying to be the next Chekhov -- not always a safe bet. Of course, the author of that reader's report didn't have the luxury of direct communication with Ms Susann.

Jeremy Hatch said...

And now I see that The Individual Voice above made the exact same observation several hours ago ... sorry...

Camille Alexa said...
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