I am a devoted, Killer Yapp-hearting snarkling who can read. Comparisons are Bad. Got that. But upon brief description, my WIP sounds just like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (first person chapters from different characters about a dying person.)
My problem is that it's completely different: each character has only one chapter; it's set in a very different time and place; each chapter covers the same period of time rather than trading off the narrative between characters, etc. Then again, that makes it sound like Roshamon, but it's not: the plot is revealed from each character's different experiences rather than just each one's different view of the same events. (And yes, despite being "literary" it definitely has a plot.)
Would it be appropriate to include a sentence or two in the query like "It differs from Faulkner's As I Lay Dying in that blah blah blah..." and perhaps "It differs from Roshamon in that yadda yadda..."
Actually that first paragraph isn't bad for a query letter. I'd give it a thumbs up on the crapometer after it got polished a bit.
The Comparisons Are Odious rule is mostly for quality and writing style, not structure. Saying it's structured like As I Lay Dying is a much different comparison than "my book can be compared to As I Lay Dying". You, being a Killer Yapp hearting Snarkling, can see the difference at once.
I like books that have interesting and unusual structure and surprise me. I don't like novelists who think they are the next Faulkner.
KY here: and what's all this hearting business? Don't any of you know that it's liversnaps that demonstrate true love?? Must I do all the thinking around here??