A Review in Review – Be Careful Whose Opinion You Ask!

I regularly read PWxyz, the blog of Publishers Weekly. I have always loved the magazine for keeping up with the publishing world, and with the digital age, I can do so every day, rather than waiting for my magazine to arrive in the mail.

Today, I read a post that once again highlights one of PWxyz’s favorite fellow blogs – Letters of Note.

According the the About Me notation: Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated every weekday. It is edited by Shaun Usher.

So today, I am stealing a letter featured on Letters of Note and PWxyz, written by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) because, as a writer and editor, I have received my share of rejection letters and quiver at the thought of a bad review. This review by Twain/Clemens is fair warning to choose your critics wisely. If you want simpering praise, ask your mother to read your manuscript. If you want truth (YOU can’t handle the truth . . . or maybe you can?), then see if you can get a widely-published author to read your manuscript, and brace yourself!

Publishers Chatto & Windus asked (Mark) Twain for a blurb for one of their books, Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille, which was by one of Twain’s friends, Ambrose Bierce. The publishers probably expected a kind word from Twain, but instead he ripped the book apart:


Farmington Avenue,



“Dod Grile” (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly — but he knows my opinion of the “Nuggets & Dust,” & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print — or very nearly so. If you keep a “reader,” it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay.
Bierce has written some admirable things — fugitive pieces — but none of them are among the “Nuggets.” There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive.

Ys truly

Samuel L. Clemens

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm  Comments (1)  
The Salty Mama

With salt in her blood & the rhythm of the sea in her heart.

The Irrefutable Opinion

Assaults on the Casually Mundane by K. Jean King


A rather droll affair

Shannon A Thompson

You need the world, and the world needs good people.

harm·less drudg·ery

defining the words that define us

Blevins Wordworx

Use Your Words. Build Your World.

Chris Skates

Faith enhances reason, it does not hinder reason; faith adds to, it does not subtract from reason

Viviana May

Inspiration For the Heart, Mind, Body, Pocket and Soul...

The Inkwell

ACFW Colorado's Blog for Writers

Jordan L. Hawk

Men, Monsters, and Mayhem


Confessions Of A Manic Expressive

The Freelancery

Thriving on your own

Walt Kania

Marketing Writer

Mark Allen Editorial

Thoughts on journalism and copy editing, including grammar, usage and style. For more about me, click My Home Page to go to www.markalleneditorial.com.

An American Editor

Commentary on Books, eBooks, and Editorial Matters