Tag: james joyce

great Gatsby

5 Wild Author Rejection Stories

Sometimes publishers reject books for legitimate reasons, like if a book contains immature prose or an uninteresting concept, or if it bears too much similarity to a book the publisher has recently released. But other times, publishers reject books for simply ridiculous reasons, i.e. maybe The Great Gatsby would be better without Gatsby in it.


These five authors were met with outrageous rejections… sometimes with outrageous results.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Editors famously pitched a pretty serious revision: “you’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.” We’re lucky that F. Scott Fitzgerald decided to stick to his original plans—The Great Dissolution of the American Dream and the Harsh Reality of Class Divisions isn’t quite as catchy. Fitzgerald’s success story wasn’t a matter of delightful revenge. Critics lambasted The Great Gatsby during Fitzgerald’s lifetime: “one finishes The Great Gatsby with a feeling of regret, not for the fate of the people in the book but for Mr. Fitzgerald.” The critics were right about one thing—Fitzgerald’s fate was as tragic as Gatsby’s. He died from side effects of his alcoholism, destitute, at the age of forty-four. If not for the novel’s resurgence during WWII, the novel might have faded into obscurity. Thankfully, it didn’t. Today, half a million copies of The Great Gatsby are sold every single year.


The Thomas Berryman Number by James Patterson


'The Thomas Berryman Number' by James Patterson


James Patterson got thirty-one rejections for his debut novel before his dreams came true. Well, “came true” is a bit of an understatement—Patterson is the world’s highest-paid author and the world’s foremost bestselling author since 2001. He recently took his success to the next level (note: there wasn’t previously a higher level) with a $150 million dollar book deal—the most expensive deal of all time. The Thomas Berryman Number is the first book in Patterson’s bestselling Alex Cross series, which now has well over eighty million copies in print. As for the publishers who rejected him, Patterson is blunt: “I keep a list of all the editors who turned down my first novel. Sometimes they send me books and ask for blurbs. Mostly, though, they’re dead.”


Moby Dick by Herman Melville


'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville


Herman Melville‘s initial rejection came with some unhelpful advice: “first, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?” If you don’t know—yes, the novel is about a whale (it’s also about an extended metaphor). The publisher followed that up with an equally unhelpful suggestion: “could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?” Probably not. The initial sales seemed to confirm skeptical publishers’ fears—the book sold only 500 copies. Today, critics view Moby Dick as one of the most accomplished novels of all time. The book’s enduring acclaim suggests that maidens just wouldn’t have cut it—even some particularly voluptuous ones.


Dubliners by James Joyce


'Dubliners' by James Joyce


James Joyce‘s Dubliners received a startling eighteen rejections, some of which are wild enough to spark their own novels. Joyce had an ongoing rivalry with publisher George Roberts, and their disagreements (read: their outrageous pettiness) lead to publication difficulties. When George Roberts asked that Joyce remove any references to the king in his short story, “Ivy,” Joyce wrote a letter directly to King George V and asked if the passages were offensive. (For some reason, the king was unable to comment.) When Roberts learned of Joyce’s financial desperation, he actively ghosted Joyce, ignoring all of his correspondence to increase Joyce’s panic. Though Dubliners finally earned publication, Joyce’s contract stipulated that he could earn no royalties until the book sold 500 copies. The book sold 499—and in typical outrageous Joyce fashion, the author himself bought 120 of those copies. Fortunately for Joyce, Dubliners is now an international classic and a staple of high school and university curriculums.


The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein


'The Making of Americans' by Gertrude Stein


In perhaps the most passive-aggressive (or possibly just actually aggressive) rejection of all time, one publisher rejected Gertrude Stein‘s The Making of Americans by directly mocking Stein’s writing style. In reading his review, readers can imagine which stylistic choices he found unpleasant:


Dear Madam,

I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.

Many thanks. I am returning the M.S. by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.


While it’s true that Stein became famous for ignoring punctuation, capitalization, and many other writing conventions, the publisher was wrong about one thing—namely, that Stein became famous. 



Images Via Amazon.com. Featured Image Via Saleshacker.com

Kate Bush

Kate Bush to Release a Brand New Lyrical Book This Year with Forward by David Mitchell

I think Kate Bush has always been of another world or era, not this one, but we are blessed to have her. Now, she’s proving her talent and musical genius once again, only this time, it’s within the realm of literature.


All her collective works throughout her career that contain lyrics tying back to literary legends like Emily Bronte and James Joyce will be published. That’s 40 years worth of undeniable art and we’re ready for it. According The Irish Times, Faber will release How to Be Invisible: Selected Lyrics on December 6th and it comes with a special contribution.


Kate Bush

 Image Via The Times


Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, who has said Bush is his “hero”, wrote a beautiful introduction about the singer for her book. His adoration and tribute to Bush is one that lasts a lifetime:


For millions around the world Kate is way more than another singer-songwriter: she is a creator of musical companions that travel with you through life… One paradox about her is that while her lyrics are avowedly idiosyncratic, those same lyrics evoke emotions and sensations that feel universal.


We have to agree with that one. December might be an even more successful month than Bush could imagine. She has been nominated for induction into the Rock’n’ Roll Hall of Fame for 2018 and the winners are announced in December. What a time that would be as an inductee with a brand new lyrical book. Once again, Bush never ceases to entrance us all.



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Catcher in the rye

6 Popular Books That Took Over 10 Years to Write

If you’re a writer out there then you know it can take time to finish a work of art. Whether its a short story or an epic novel, a lot of time and thought goes into finishing a story. I recently wrote an article about 12 challenging books readers struggle to finish and while researching it I learned that it took James Joyce 17 years to finish Finnegans Wake. I repeat 17 years. While that figure seemed shocking, it certainly wasn’t the only story that took a long time to see daylight. Here are 6 popular books that took at least ten years to write:




1. Finnegans Wake  by James Joyce

– 17 years




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When he wasn’t writing naughty love letters to his wife Nora or reeling from the success of Ulysses, James Joyce completed Finnegans Wake over the course of 17 years while in Paris, only two years before his death. Given the novels complexity, intricate language, and use of allusions, its no wonder it took the author a long time to write it. Joyce allegedly predicted that it would take readers an equal amount of time to read it and it looks like he was right, as the novels length and complexity make it one of the books readers struggle with finishing the most.




2. The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

– 12 to 17 years




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Though the actual figure has been debated, it’s generally accepted that it took Tolkien at least 12 years to finish his iconic trilogy. Tolkien worked on the series in varying degrees between 1937 and 1949 while also working as a professor at Pembroke college. Though it took ages to see publication, the time was clearly worth it as its success has shown.



3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

– 12 to17 years




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Since so much time has passed since Les Miserables was published, there is some debate as to whether it took 12 or 17 years to complete but either way, it took a long time. Hugo reportedly began working on the historical novel in 1845 but was forced to put it aside due to political tension and exile for a time until he was able to continue working on it and it was eventually published in 1862.




4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

– 10 Years




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This iconic American classic was written while Mitchell was recovering from an ankle injury and, interestingly enough, she never actually intended on publishing it. After a friend allegedly said something along the lines of “Imagine, you writing a book!” Mitchell decided to publish it after all and I’m sure her friend regretted saying anything in the first place.



5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

10 Years



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Though The Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s only novel, and fairly short, it took the author 10 years between the time he started writing it and the time it was published. The novel has gone on to become one of the most read and banned novels of all time. Though it’s been successful, Salinger reportedly struggled with the criticism it received soon after it was published and spent his lifetime regretting having written it.




6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

– 10 Years




 Image Via Amazon

After spending five years working on this novel daily, Diaz apparently suffered from writers block and put the novel on the back burner until he returned and spent another five years finishing it.




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tweet from lauren groff

NSFW: The Top Funniest Tweets About Bloomsday

James Joyce, literary genius and author of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses among many others, really is the gift that just keeps on giving. Joyce scholars devote their entire lives to studying his often dense texts, deciphering his indecipherable handwriting and learning still more about his life and work.


Bloomsday, the annual celebration of Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, sees the city of Dublin awash with people in costume, guided tours, talks and events to mark the anniversary of the day over which the entirety of ‘Ulysses’ is set, but as always, it’s yielded some pretty hilarious situations and observations, recounted by the good people of Twitter.com. Take a look at some of the best: 



Joyce delighting living literary legends such as Lauren Groff…


His timeless descriptions… 


The wonder of Bloomsday in Dublin…


For some genuinely original content…


For those of you watching Love Island…  



Bonus Content: Joyce and his wife Nora exchanged some fairly, ahem, steamy correspondence in the days before instant messaging, which is worth checking out if you want to be genuinely a little taken aback.  


Featured Image Via Twitter