HOW TO ENTER REJECT-A-HIT Ever wish you could be the one doing the rejecting? Take the WD challenge by humorously rejecting a hit in 400 words or fewer. Send your letter to wdsubmissions@ fwmedia.com with “Reject a Hit” in the subject line. Yours could appear in a future issue! (Submitted pieces may be edited for space or clarity.)
Let's step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure?
This issue's contribution comes from Kerreanna DiMauro of Waltham, Mass., who had WD editors in stitches over her fictional editor's delightful misread of the classic Frankenstein.
Dear Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,
Thank you for submitting your gothic horror manuscript, Frankenstein. Or, The Modern Prometheus. While I personally consider myself an avid and open-minded fan of science-fiction fare, I must respectfully decline your monster story for several reasons:
* Your mad scientist, Victor Frankenstein, is merely a student of chemistry and alchemy, and not a licensed physician. He is a researcher, at best. With nary a mention of a medical degree, an aide, midwife, shaman or nurse, I believe Frankenstein's surgical tomfoolery would be libelous.
* The 8-foot-tall yellow-skinned monster is described as parentless, nameless and devoid of a sense of self and identity. Furthermore, you refer to your protagonist as a "creature," "fiend," "demon," "wretch," "devil" and "ogre." How can a semi-mute, yellow beast be a child's favorite plaything? I'm not quite sure what textile the world's leading doll maker in England—or even Europe—could possibly develop to lure kids to buy a soft, cuddly Frankenstein doll, but I doubt such material even exists. An electric Frankenstein rattle? Once again, I predict lawsuit.
* From the beginning, the monster is rejected by everyone he meets, and by receiving no love, he becomes embittered. Where's the absurdist comedy?! A long way from being light and escapist, this monster fantasy forces the heart and mind to do flip-flops. I am still experiencing nightmares. And your book jostled sad memories of my own fatherless upbringing, though you couldn't have known my private affairs—or, could you?
* Your comparison to Prometheus is rather sloppy: Prometheus' goal was to better mankind by providing fire from the heavens. Victor Frankenstein believes his experiment will create an ultimate being, which will help mankind ... but the creature turns on him and kills all of his loved ones. So, to recap: A workaholic, self-centered non-doctor creates a monster that ends up disloyal and homicidal. Like a person can dabble in cloning! My, my, Mrs. Shelley, you do possess a comedic flair, after all.
With no relation whatsoever,
Frank N. Stein Jr.