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:
Read the rest over at Letters of Note: Link
... 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.