I think what I love most about Pushcart’s COMPLETE ROTTEN REVIEWS AND REJECTIONS, edited by Bill Henderson & Andre Bernard, is that it lifts the veil of mystery between writers and the publishing world, and shows us just how human we are all are despite our attempts to become omniscient. Mistakes get made. Critics and editors get cranky and misunderstand an important book. Writers insult other writers.
Any writer who is feeling timorous about submitting his or her work should consider reading this book. Reading the nasty reviews and rejections other writers have received was an excellent antidote for self-pity. The book also provides a peek into history, since Bill Henderson made an effort to include rotten reviews going as far back as 411 BC.
I don’t want to spoil the fun of what is inside, so instead I’ll quote from the back cover:
…Alice in Wonderland was greeted with “a stiff overwrought story.” Reviews of Moby Dick cited Melville for “tragic-comic bubble and squeak.” Classic rejection slips were delivered to John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In from the Cold: “You’re welcome to Le Carre–he hasn’t got any future,” and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years,”…
My one gripe is that the book has no index, and since the excerpts are not arranged chronologically or alphabetically, I have to randomly flip around to find the author or quote I’m looking for.
This book combines the three separate Pushcart editions of ROTTEN REVIEWS, ROTTEN REVIEWS II, and ROTTEN REJECTIONS. So you’re getting three books for the price of one. A great bargain.