5.23.2006

Miss Snark heads for a cliff

My Dearest Mistress Snark,

Your casual reference today to the great "King Lear" has prompted me to write to you with a question that I have long been procrastinating over (and no, it does not relate to the filial fidelity of my three daughters, ha ha!).


After almost ten years of toil and introspection, oft reaching into the very depths of my soul and tearing free my inner being, I have finally completed my latest work; a literary novel of great erudition and depth, if I may so immodestly state.


Knowing how important it is that the reader can recognize the metaphor and sub-text in order to truly emotionally connect with, and be enlightened by, the work, and remembering well my own frustration in high-school comparative literature where ill-read students and teachers alike would butcher a literary classic by attributing to it meaning far distant from the author's intent, I have heavily annotated my own text, including providing translations of the passages that are in the original Ancient Greek (with a well deserved nod to Mr. Golding for his skilful use of that device).


So, without further ado, to the heart of my question. How, in the normal course of events, do you administer the publishing of the Cliffs Notes to accompany a work of fiction? Are these considered a subsidiary publishing right? I have, to protect the integrity of my work and the important messages contained therein, already drafted the manuscript for the aforementioned Clffs Notes and wonder if I should make reference to those in the initial query; submit them at the time the full manuscript is requested; or wait until you offer representation before presenting the comprehensive reading guide?

I believe, as I am sure you do too, that I owe it to my audience to give them every opportunity to read and understand my work; even though the rich tapestry I have woven will without doubt pass over the heads of many of them, and they may merely default to reading the work as just another chick-lit story. With the knowledge that nothing will come of nothing, therefore, I herewith submit my enquiry, and indeed myself, to the mercy of your wisdom and look forward to your metaphorically rich reply.

With deepest admiration for your blog-based largesse,


Your Humble Servant,

XXX

Literary Author (unpublished).


Oh yes definitely include a list of all the study aids required to fully appreciate the novel.
I guarantee it will greatly assist an agent's ability to decide if your work is right for his/her list. Cliff notes are a subsidiary right, categorized with anthologies and ViewMaster slide presentations.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG! Is this person for real?

Miss Snark, you made my day, my week, my month!

Your devoted Snarkling

Anonymous said...

This has got to be a joke - and a troll. Surely nobody is that pretentious unless it's on purpose.

kis said...

I have often thought the great unwashed to be vulgarly unappreciative of *my* wisdom, as well. I'm sure it's them, not me...

kis said...

Cliff notes: might I need to get over myself?

Jude Hardin said...

LOL! A literary masterpiece disguised as chicklit. I'm sure Mr. Joyce is having a fine laugh somewhere right now, as am I.

Let's all raise a toast to this author on June 16th, Bloomsday 2006. For those of you who don't understand this reference, the Cliff's note are on Google. :)

Anonymous said...

That was fabulous, laugh-out-loud post.

Yeah, Miss Snark, for giving irony its voice.

Manic Mom said...

Longest and most eye-popping, mind-boggling-wish-I-stopped-reading-at-word-one sentence in the entire freaking world:
Knowing how important it is that the reader can recognize the metaphor and sub-text in order to truly emotionally connect with, and be enlightened by, the work, and remembering well my own frustration in high-school comparative literature where ill-read students and teachers alike would butcher a literary classic by attributing to it meaning far distant from the author's intent, I have heavily annotated my own text, including providing translations of the passages that are in the original Ancient Greek (with a well deserved nod to Mr. Golding for his skilful use of that device).

Gabriele C. said...

Oh yes, definitely add your translations of Ancient Greek so I can make sure you got it right.

michaelgav said...

I think Literary Author's tongue was planted firmly in cheek. Otherwise we may have to reach into the very depths of Literary Author's soul, just past where his previously torn-free inner being used to hang out, and rip out his spleen.

Why stop with Cliff Notes? Why not sponsor a symposium at which several living Nobel laureates deconstruct the damn thing?

(Although please go easy on him for translating from the Ancient Greek. I'm always grateful when Carl Hiaasen does that.)

Can you form a mental image of this guy? Jowly, pasty-white, lots of tweed. Sort of a young Roger Ebert in appearance, or maybe the character actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. (He was one of the villains in "The Princess Bride" -- the one who kept shouting, "InconCEIVable!")

M. G. Tarquini said...

PSA:

Best to allow at least six hours to elapse between your last gin and writing email to Miss Snark.

In some cases, eight hours might be better.

Hard To Believe said...

"...I owe it to my audience to give them every opportunity to read and understand my work..."

You owe your audience a compelling reason to get beyond the first paragraph.

Is this a satire? If so, the writing isn't very good.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, (despite my inner Snark who is saying WTF). Maybe no one told this person that literary doesn't mean over-worked, overly dramatic and pretentious. Are they so self-assured that they don't even know it? I'm always surprised when I run across someone who is.

Anonymous said...

Haha!
This sounds like the person who measures poetry in feet. (Actually, poetry is measured in feet . . . )

-SP

Anonymous said...

If the book is ANYTHING like the query, it's a dud.

jta said...

Pone ubi sol non lucet!

December Quinn said...

I believed it until the "may read my work as just another chick-lit" line. Now I'm sure it's a joke.

But oh, dear...if it is real...


(My word verif is "ubunx". Tee hee.)

Jodi Meadows said...

You are my hero, Miss Snark! People are nuts!

truthteller said...

That was very clever and funny. Hats off to the query writer for starting my day out right.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Egad! I LOVE Viewmasters!!!
Dearest Literary Author,
I have a friend who has my greatest respect as an English Professor, PhD, lover of literature and poetry who wrote his great American novel. He got several responses from agents saying something akin to "Gosh, you are very smart." Unfortunately he received no offers for representation. Though I'm still hopeful he'll rework it and give it another go, I do posit this: language is a form of communication. We write to communicate something. If you write something that needs abundant supplements in order to understand it, then you aren't fulfilling the purpose of the medium.
Live Long and Prosper.

Termagant 2 said...

Actually, some Christian fiction pubs have started putting study guides in the back of their novels. Gaack. 'Scuse me, but if I wanna go to Bible Study I'll crank up the Steel Pony & hie myself to church. Not in fiction, thanks!

Semper ubi sub ubi.

T2

One Girl's Opinion said...

This is too too funny! But after weeding through the bluk of it, I found this part facinating:

"I owe it to my audience to give them every opportunity to read and understand my work; even though the rich tapestry I have woven will without doubt pass over the heads of many of them"

Ultimately I think writers are like midwives. We bring the tale into exsistance, but we really have little say over anything after that. Readers are the final interprtation authourity. This is a measure of control that, as a reader, I'd be unwilling to give to the author.
Let me interpret How I see fit, and you can interprt how you see fit, and we'll all get along just fine.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Oh good. It's not just me then.

Ken Boy said...

Dear Agent: Please see Addendum V, Subparagraph 8.1 for a more detailed discussion of my protagonist's motivations in Book II, Chapter 22, Scene 3 of my Novel.

Anonymous said...

This has got to be a joke. One would hope there are only so many idiots in the world, and that they are involved in politics, not trolling or, dog forbid, writing "literary" novels.
This post made my head hurt.

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

It has come to this?

People concocting and tossing B.S. slow-pitch softballs for the entertainment value of watching it get clobbered by the nihlistic twit-thrasher that is Ms. Snark?

Folks, Snarky is Albert Pujols. Save your underhand toss and let bonafide oblivions throw their hanging fastballs.

Evil Ed, or whomever wrote that... Snark is not a little store, she does not need to be patronized.

Sheesh. Forward that post to Snopes.com.

jta said...

Dwight, you are troubled, aren't you?

Fastballs don't hang. Fastballs fail to hop. Curveballs sometimes hang, and maybe very poorly thrown sliders, but not fastballs.

Of course the post is BS. Our world is BS. The only question is, is it good BS? Does it reach the truth?

Yes. I know people like the author depicted in the post. Very smart, very superior. And they look so good--smart--in their Wal-Mart jackets.

You wanna make the majors, you gotta learn to see the curveball.

alau said...

Ha! That was funny!

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this "query" is a wonderful writer. I want to read more of their stuff. Totally hilarious! And, said writer was at least nice enough to let us off the hook with the "chick lit" reference.

Sam said...

Stephan is lying awfully low lately...
Methinks I recognize a certain style here!
LOL

Beth said...

Semper ubi sub ubi.

Teeheehee. My cousins tell me that used to be the motto of their Latin club. I haven't heard it in years.

Jessica said...

I was like halfway through that when my brain just collapsed because it could accept that this person was for real. Oh, and, Jude Hardin, how could somebody not know what Bloomsday is? Oh, Leo, he's almost as wonderful as my dear, prideful Stephen. Anyway, I better go, I'm just begining to read this new novel, and I don't want all the Dr. Suess cliff notes to get sold out before I get to the store.

Poohba said...

Christian fiction publishers aren't the only ones putting study guides in the back of their books these days. I've picked up quite a few mainstream books lately that have "reader's group" guides complete with discussion questions and Q & A with the author. Gag. But I've never been a big reader's group fan.

BitchySmurf said...

I'm sitting at my desk shaking with laughter.

The novels not even published yet and we're already jumping to it being such a gem it needs to be taught in classes.

And don't you think if you wrote your own Cliff's Notes the people at Cliff's Notes might be a wee bit angry about all that trademark infrigement?

You Don't Know Me said...

Did anyone else read that in Mr. Burns' voice?

kis said...

For all of you who are 100% sure this is a joke, I direct you to one of the first posts in Evil Editor's archives--a list of real, actual, genuine, bonafide excerpts from real, actual, genuine, bonafide query letters. There was one lengthy bit that might have been written by Literary Author himself. :)

Eliot said...

For fans of pretentiousness, one of the funniest short stories I've read (in one of the best short story collections I've read, same title) is The Best-Known Man in the World, wherein a poet attempts to make a record of every thought and action of his life, so that future scholars may easily study his work by applying it to his life. Daniel Pearlman is the author.

Shelley Bates said...

Nothing wrong with a reader's group guide--my publisher has me write them for my own books. If a group picks your book, that's, oh, a dozen sales you might not have had otherwise. I'm all for that.

http://www.shelleybates.com

Stephen said...

Stephan is lying awfully low lately...
Methinks I recognize a certain style here!


Not me, guv, I didn't write that one. Too busy tying up the loose ends of my first novel with my agent before heading off into the remote fastnesses of Wales to make a serious start on the second. A week with no internet access: a bittersweet prospect.

I thought that the question was good fun, though, and I guess Miss Snark thought so too, else she wouldn't have blogged it.

TNH said...

Alas, I see no reason to believe that letter was a joke. I've seen its kin in the slushpile. At least this one didn't mention that he was busy digitizing the new alphabet that would be needed in order to render his characters' language.

Anonymous said...

How about a prerequisit reading list before someone is a llowed to buy the book?

Dave Kuzminski said...

Oh, I thought he meant that guy in Cheers would analyze the work over a beer and pretzels.

kathie said...

Must, must, must, must be a joke.

Anonymous said...

What in the hell did she say? Excuse me, but I just don't understand. Really. That's just way too literary for me. Yap, pass the gin.

Georgia Girl

Miss Snark said...

You Don't Know Me: now that you mention it...yes!

Don't forget to tap your fingers and sneer lightly whilst you do it.

Oh dear dog, the visual the visual

HawkOwl said...

Wow. Until today I didn't even know there were "skilled" and "unskilled" uses of "the original Ancient Greek." Somehow I always thought all Ancient Greek was pompous and beside the point. I wonder if his skilled use of very split infinitives will be explained in the Cliff's Notes? "To truly emotionally connect" is quite fabulous. Really.

-ril said...

Maybe better not to start a debate on the role of the split infinitive in literature (as Raymond Chandler said, "when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split").

However, the faulty parallelism in paragraph four is unforgivable.

-ril

Tom said...

Cheers on the split infinitive note, -ril. A great book to add to the reference shelf is Garner's Modern American Usage. He debunks a lot of those ridiculous rules like not splitting infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions, and so on. Please forgive if it's already been mentioned.