Fun_People Archive
9 Jul
A River Runs Over It

Date: Fri,  9 Jul 93 23:21:14 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: A River Runs Over It

 From: vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU!bostic (Keith Bostic)

A letter written by Norman Maclean in 1981, author of 'A River Runs
Through It and Other Stories' to Charles Elliott of Alfred A. Knopf
which had rejected the first book, but was then courting Maclean for
his second manuscript, 'Young Men and Fire'.

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.

	You must have known that Alfred A. Knopf turned down my first
collection of stories after playing games with it, or at least the game
of cat's-paw, now rolling it over and saying they were going to publish
it and then rolling it on its back when the president of the company
announced it wouldn't sell.  So I can't understand how you could ask if
I'd submit my second manuscript to Alfred A. Knopf, unless you don't
know my race of people.  And I can't understand how it didn't register
on me - 'Alfred A. Knopf' is clear enough on your stationery.

	But, although I let the big moment elude me, it has given rise
to little pleasures.  For instance, whenever I receive a statement of
the sales of 'A River Runs Through It' from the University of Chicago
Press, I see that someone has written across the bottom of it, 'Hurrah
for Alfred A. Knopf.'  However, having let the great moment slip by
unrecognized and unadorned, 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.

Very sincerely,
Norman Maclean

[=] © 1993 Peter Langston []