Home Book editor Irritated, irritated and annoyed: first letters to the editor

Irritated, irritated and annoyed: first letters to the editor


Indeed, the book seems completely inappropriate to be put in the hands of young people or to have a place on the table of the family library.

new York

October 9, 1932

Editor-in-Chief, The New York Times Book Review:

If one is to believe Mr. Hemingway, the great adventure and the thirst for blood merge in the Castilian arenas. One might wonder how a bullfight differs from a dogfight, or a main weaponry, or burrows in a rat pit, or shooting pigeons from a trap, except, indeed, that a corrida endangers human life. I have never seen the cover of any of the more than 2,000 Spanish books and pamphlets on this topic, and after reading the tearful tosh distilled by Mr. Hemingway, I didn’t feel like doing it.

New York City

August 3, 1952

For the publisher:

I was directed by questionable friends to the recent review of my novel, “Forty-Four Gravel Street”. I was particularly intrigued by the reviewer’s mention of a “bald woman chained to a bed”. This episode, while charming, is not in the book; and I fear that the reckless reader, perhaps not as imaginative as a seasoned critic, will be disappointed.

Los Angeles


For the publisher:

I was wrong. The lady was not chained to a bed (and it turns out later that she has hair). Here’s the phrase that threw me – “and across the hall, peering through an eighth of an inch of an open door, the emaciated Mrs. Post, secured behind a chain and a special bar -.” I misinterpreted it as “kept secure by a chain and a special bar.”

new York

May 17, 1959

For the publisher:

I just called my attention to a letter from a gentleman by the name of Spencer Brown that appeared in your journal.

This gentleman seems, for some reason, to be annoyed with me.

I am understandably desperate, for it is evident that no small literary reputation I can possess could survive the disapproval of such a distinguished and famous literary critic.

By the way, who is he?

I am intrigued by his name. Not by Brown – a most respectable name. But why, for God’s sake, Spencer? Can he be a relative of our English Earl Lord Spencer? I think not. Or MM. Marks and Spencer? May be. He is right to speak of himself as “ordinary”. That it certainly is, in the true sense of the word.


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