Midnight in the Garden of Good and Snarkvel

Dear Miss Snark

Writes a Snarkling

The first time I heard about "Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil" a guy on the radio stammered around trying to explain what the book was about. He said he just couldn't bumper-sticker it. Hearing this on the radio piqued my interest, so I bought the book and loved it. I've been wondering what John Berendt's query might have looked like. I suspect stammering in a letter wouldn't pique anyone's interest. How would you have written that query? Your answer would make a great post.

Miss Snarkling responds:

Dear Mr. Mehta:

Imagine being on trial for your life not once but three times. Accused of killing a "walking streak of sex" houseguest who may have been a conniving rent boy, Jim Williams, Savanah bachelor, real estate mogul and Christmas party host embodies everything that makes Savannah so southern Gothic genteel. A town that won't say homosexual in public is rocked to the core by this trial. Not that they'd ever say that of course, bless their hearts. Throw in the Lady Chablis; a Georgia bulldog; and a little bit of voodoo and you've got a narrative non fiction page turner. Oh, and don't forget the soundtrack by Savanah's own Johhny Mercer. Jim Williams lived in and restored the Mercer house till his, shall we say, "troubles" began.

Now John Berendt didn't write that.

But here's what he did say in an online interview with the New York Times.

JMacbmac asks: How did the book get published? Was it rejected by any house?

JBerendt 1: It was not rejected by any of the four publishers my agent sent it to. But my original agent DID reject it. She told me it read very well but that it was just "too local." This book that was "too local" is being translated into Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian and Portuguese. It is also a bestseller in the U.K. -- England, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.

You'll notice she didn't say the writing stunk.


kitty said...

So, if you had received this query you wouldn't have asked John Berendt, Why should I care a bulldog and Lady Chablis?

It's always helpful using actual books we know for examples. I had been wondering about Berendt's query. Wow, FOUR publishers did not reject it!!

Thank you, Miss Snark.

Now, talk about a challenge!

Miss Snark said...

Kitty, you owe me one large coffee, three blue pens, and the first sixteen pages of some hapless writer's manuscript because I spewed coffee ALL over laughing at that Dilbert.

You are a bad bad kitty! Thanks!!!

kitty said...

Small price to pay :)

kitty said...

Thank you again, Miss Snark, for this example. I've been stuck in a car all day writing imaginary queries in my mind. Yours gave me great ideas.