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Try Now We Can Only Lose

Dear Betsy Lerner:

I have recently completed a 108,000 word novel entitled, The Ascension of Rochelle Epstein. It’s a cross between Jennifer Weiner and Woody Allen if he got a period. Briefly, Rochelle is an overweight (and yes I read Food and Loathing and loved it) high school science teacher. When her mother takes ill and is hospitalized, she finds herself falling in love with the young priest who comes to offer daily prayers for the infirm. This will surely kill her mother if it doesn’t kill Rochelle first!

About me: I have a BA in Science and a Masters from Berkeley in Chemical Engineering. I have been an avid reader my whole life. I belong to two book groups, one for contemporary fiction, the other for classics. I would be grateful for your consideration and any feedback you might offer.

Thank you, NAME WITHHELD

As a way to talk about how to write an effective query letter, I thought I would post this one and ask you what you think. What I’d like to know is:

1) If you were an agent would you invite the writer to send the manuscript?

2) Please explain, if you care to,  why you would invite or why you would decline.

If this is interesting, I can devote the week to query letters or I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming wherein I give voice to self-loathing, anguish, and contempt both within and towards publishing.



87 Responses

  1. It’s interesting, but does he have any pub credits? And, setting aside, for a moment, the sloppy construction of the sentence, does he have to say: “if he got a period”? WTF does that mean?

    I like the premise of his novel though, and with a little polish on this, I would take a look at it.

    Except that I’m just a blogger and aspiring novelist myself. So that wouldn’t do him much good.

  2. I thought the first paragraph was strong, and the tone was smart and likeable.

    But the second paragraph didn’t have enough info about a track record as a writer.

    So, ask to see it? Probably yes, based on first paragraph.

  3. I like the title. I wouldn’t ask for the manuscript. “It’s a cross between Jennifer Weiner and Woody Allen if he got a period.” What does that mean? So she falls in love with a priest. Does he fall in love with her? What happens in this story that would make me want to read it? The bio is impressive, but not helpful here. If I were a nice agent, I’d suggest that the author learn how to write a query letter. I hate to be so negative because when I was starting out, my query letters were way worse than this. At least she got your name right.

  4. It might appeal to a Jewish agent who loves Woody Allen, has food and mother issues, and gets a period. Maybe not.

  5. It isn’t the best query, but the voice is bright and witty, and I believe her. Sometines you don’t need more than wit, a good idea, and a compliment to the agent. Read it.

  6. Betsy, thank you and wow, thanks to this brave person who has a query up for review. A few comments.

    Short and sweet is good but this feels too short, almost terse. I am intrigued about the circumstances — assuming mom is Jewish, why is a priest visiting her? If mom isn’t Jewish, that’s the problem? Oh, yeah. That. Well, priests bail out of the priesthood all the time.

    Also, who is she, falling in love? I think I know but the reference isn’t quite solid. Both would be funny.

    There is a wit here, even though I don’t know who Jennifer Weiner is. Woody Allen is pretty lofty company.

    At most, I would request the first fifty pages (though one could tell within about five if it makes sense to go on). Bad query letters from bright people can hide good manuscripts. I’d find out.

    • thank god for agents who look past bad queries!

    • At the risk of seeming nitpicky, I’m going to point out that the letter didn’t say the priest was visiting the mother, only that he was visiting the infirm. That leaves the question open as to whether he dropped in on the mother (which is conceivable, since hospitals don’t put labels on patients’ doors) or just met the daughter because she was spending so much time at the hospital. Come to think of it, that makes for a potential point of interest: how DO they meet?

  7. I think linking Woody Allen to PMS is hilarious. It got my attention. I’d want to read more just from that. The story on its own might not be unique enough to light my fire but based on the tone, it might be. And I really like the personalized approach. Sure it needs some polish but no one can write a query that will make everyone happy. I’d venture to say the author doesn’t have writing credentials or they’d be mentioned but so what. Everyone starts somewhere.

    I’d be diappointed with a week of queries and no anguish and self-loathing. Unless you could tie them together. And have perfect lyrics to match the queries.

  8. Good tone, thin plot and insufficient stakes = a pass.

  9. I don’t have a problem with posts about effective query letters, but I do wonder about how useful they are. Having seen the way people descend like mini-sharks elsewhere to rip a query to shreds and feeling like they are showing how well they’ve done their homework instead of seeing if this particular letter – whether impeccably executed or not – grabs their attention *despite* the “rules”… I just don’t see the point. Just my ten cents.

  10. The word count and reference to Woody Allen and book clubs stopped me. No, thanks. The Thorn Birds has no reason to worry about challenges from this one.

  11. If the writer included any pages with the query (as an agent, I’d probably ask all submissions to include 5-10 pages), I’d read them. If I wasn’t impressed, I’d pass.

    The reason: I am a query skeptist. The words ‘recently completed’ make me wonder if this person has edited it at all. Guessing by the 100,000 words, I’d say it hasn’t been. That scares me. The ‘brief’ summary was too brief. I wasn’t left with any sense that the writer knows how to form a solid plot. I find myself more worried about the items in the writer’s bio than impressed. A BA or an MA don’t make you an author. Neither do book clubs.

    As a fellow writer, I’d suggest this person get a critique group instead 🙂

    (Also, I’m usually quite happy with your self-loathing, anguish, and contempt. I also like critiquing query letters.)

    • Everything Jessica said. And the “book club” part bothered me. All the book clubs I’ve ever belonged to were really drinking clubs in disguise. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  12. Query letter critiques feel icky I guess because we have all been there. So hard to keep the faith and keep writing while thinking of your pitch and how lame it might be.

    More interesting — to me anyway — would be examples of really effective ones and all of us trying to figure out why. The things they say, the things they leave out, etc.

  13. I don’t know if I can live without your contempt and self-loathing for a week, Betsy. Not right before the holidays.

    • word.

      where am i going to bitch about the onslaught of family between now and 2011????

    • Ha! I won’t be seeing my family for the holidays so I have to get my contempt and self-loathing somewhere don’t I?

      B

    • We can do query letters. But being it’s Christmas and all, I still need my morning dose of self-loathing please.

      So about this query …. was that a hungry Jewish priest with a period? I’ve read so many responses now, I forget.

  14. I wanted to give it a yes because I’m intrigued by the premise (I do love the angsty Quills-style hot for the priest bit) but the Jennifer Weiner / Woody Allen thing threw me because that tells me the writer is going to try to make this funny which I don’t know about. I think it’d work more for me coming from a darker angle.

    The bio gave me a little pause also because there’s no indication from it that this person has devoted any major time to working on their craft other than the reading, which is good but probably not enough.

  15. Wish I could help you out, but I don’t know jack shit about how to be an agent. Half the time I don’t know why they accept what they accept or why they reject what they reject. I am glad there are enough of them and enough publishers, too, so that more than enough decent, readable books get published.

    I can only speak as a writer, and as a writer I would not read this book. But I am not its audience. Or readership. Or target market. Or whatever the correct term is. Whatever it is, I’m not it.

    Oh, all right. I’ll say what I really think about that query. No, I would not invite submission of the whole manuscript. The author of that letter is an amateur. If I knew enough about the market to think there might be a market for this book (and I don’t, but I do), I’d invite the writer to send me the first twenty pages. Twenty pages to appear generous. I wouldn’t want to hurt the poor thing’s feelings by asking for less, but I wouldn’t ask for more unless those first twenty pages made it worthwhile. I could decide within the first five pages and maybe within the first page whether or not the matter would be worth pursuing any further. The total time I would have to invest to make the request and evaluation could be as little as two minutes. That’s not too much time to invest to make sure I wasn’t letting a good one get by.

    Or maybe it is. I’m very skeptical about this writer and her book. My spidey-sense says, “Don’t bother. This is an amateur, and not a gifted one.”

  16. Regularly scheduled programming for me.

  17. As regards your week of query blog posts: If you have reached the agent stage, you should already know how to write a query. If you don’t, get a book. Besides, I think these answers prove how personal it is anyway. I’d look at the book, but not because it’s a good, by-the-book query. It would just be my gut.

  18. I’d ask for a partial on this. While not enchanted by the premise, I can see how it’d depend on the voice;
    might have a chick audience. As a straight male,
    I could care less. Premise isn’t strong enough.
    Depends on voice.
    John

  19. Feeling guilty for my first comment. But I really was put off by “if he got a period”. Isn’t that a misogynistic?

  20. No offense to the pack of jackals–hrm, regular readership–but I could give a shit less what your blog habitués think. Unless and until they (and I, for that matter) graduate from competing for your attention to competing with you as an agent, no one here except you has a viable opinion of this query. Maybe the question is “would you read this book,” not “would you say yes to this query”?

    And didn’t I read somewhere that publication credits don’t mean jack if the book is good? Like on every agent blog on the planet?

    I wince when you cut yourself in front of the readership just to make yourself bleed in public, but I cringe really hard when the readership acts like something out of Shirley Jackson.

    • Yeah, we’re all just a bunch of lambs on the way to, where did they say? Oh yeah, we’re on our way to the Happy Grass farm, that’s where we’re being led. I think Betsy is opening a window curtain at times here and what we–call me Ismael Jackal–get out of the view is up to us. Of the jackal/jack/Jackson trilogy, I’ve read “The Lottery”, know what a jackal is and unfortunately have never met Jack, a fact many people point out to me.

      Will I be in any of the pictures when they start selling postcards from the hanging?

  21. For me, the letter is a toss-up. It leaves me in doubt as to the tone of the novel and the shape of the story. I get the Woody Allen reference and liked it, but I don’t know Jennifer Weiner’s work (though I could look her up). The sentence “This will surely kill her mother if it doesn’t kill Rochelle first!” is light, appearing to promise comic conflict, but it leaves me wanting more. It’s a little too casual. If it does represent the book, then the book may be too casual itself; if it doesn’t, it’s not doing its job and should be reworked.

    Still, I would ask to see more. Not a full manuscript, but some pages. That’s kind of a gut response, but I think it’s because I see possibilities in the basic situation–it involves a triangle. (For me, there’s a geometry of relationships: triangles are more promising than pairs.)

    The author’s background is kind of a toss-up as well, but I lean toward a positive response to it. She knows something of the world beyond writing. Other things being equal, a writer with experience of life is more interesting to me than a writer with experience of writing programs and workshops.

  22. The story ain’t my cup o’ tea but I thought if it was the query was well done. She even personalized it enough to let you know she’s familiar with your background and interests as well. Yeah, I thought it hit all the points it needed to and I would have asked to look at more.

  23. I’d ask for a partial. I like the title, but summary tries too hard too be clever. (Maybe I’m not the target reader.) Also, I worry about the length. Leave off the exclamation mark.

  24. I liked that the letter is succinct, but thought the word count would lead most agents to file it in the shredder. The author’s wit comes through and I’d be curious to see if the same voice was present in the novel. I think it has potential and I’d ask for at least some pages. Tough call, but I’m not an agent.

    I would welcome a holiday workshop on query letters. I’m torn between thinking a query is a simple cut and dried formula that gets the soul of a book across versus figuring out the best way to get that soul on paper in a few sentences or less while creating a new formula. I think fresh, powerful writing is, obviously, the most important ingredient, but what else holds it all together? You know, if my book is a tasty fruitcake, I hope the agent doesn’t drop it on her foot, ruining all chances of ever sampling what’s inside.

  25. I want to read the book about any man Woody or otherwise who survives just one period. I’ll pay to publish that piece of sci-fi myself…

    B

    • I’ve lived with my wife for twenty-five years; I’ve survived hundreds.

      The query is fine. It’s just a query. If I knew a zaftig editor with a Jewish mother, an adequate budget, and a fondness for thick-lit, I’d ask for more.

  26. Ooo, case studies. Great learning tools. I’m sure this author knows to pick the good intentions from ashes. Afterall, you need a thick skin in this business and she obviously follows this blog.

  27. The things I like about the letter: The writing is quirky. The author has followed Betsy and written a letter she thinks will grab Betsy’s attention. Yeah, the period comment might not work for everyone but after reading Eat, Pray, Tampon; Under the Tampon Sun and Sanitary (I)Pad here it’s probably a safe bet.

    I think the story sounds pretty funny. It has conflict and the promise of great entertainment. I mean, come on, a Jewish daughter falling for a priest? The places it can go. The title is great.

    I know all the books, websites, etc. say not to compare yourself to an impossible mark like Woody Allen but I personally, find it funny. I also know you should be more formal if you don’t have a personal contact with the agent but I don’t think the letter would work within that context. The author said she’s writing humor. Good example. She’s not boring.

    The second paragraph is clunky. The letter would be much stronger if it was deleted and closed with the thank yous. The book group comment made me cringe. In fact, up to that point I was thinking a definite yes to read more but the book group inclusion leaves me wondering if maybe the author needs more fermenting. I’d probably ask for a partial just to see if the writing holds up to that first paragraph or the second.

    Disclosure: My response is not intended as learning (even though I desperately need it) but a blatant attempt to kiss Betsy’s lovely ass.

    • I agree 100% with Deb’s post and her Disclosure statement had me lol.

      I would like to add that if Deb sent me this post as a query, I would totally ask to see her manuscript.

  28. I think the 108,000 words might give me pause–that’s way too long for this type of novel.

    It sounds like it has some funny and interesting possibilities, but I’m not sure what the story arc is–I would need to feel some emotional connection with the MC to care. I think the query needs to be fleshed out so that it offers something more than a sit-com scenario. I would probably pass…..

  29. It can’t hurt look at 5 pages, can it? Kind of like peeking out the window to check out your blind date before going to dinner.

  30. I would ask for pages. I like the concept and the story. I want to know what happened to Rochelle…although if the work in itself is good, I may change the name Rochelle…a shorter name perhaps. Epstein’s Complaint kept running through my mind. The only thing is the letter leaves the agent hanging…wouldn’t a writer want to let the agent know what happens to the Rochelle/priest relationship. I’ve always thought these kind of gimme letters were verboten.

    If done really well, I think it could be a hit..

  31. “It’s a cross between Jennifer Weiner and Woody Allen if he got a period”

    ???

    I am mightily disturbed. “If he got a period?” Really?

    Actually, if we mean he was swamped by punctuation, that could be an amusing premise. Sadly, I don’t think that was the writer’s intent.

    I don’t think the summary is bad — nor the length too long; I don’t think 108,000 is long at all — but then, I read excessively — my problem was that the plot itself was overshadowed by 1) the period remark and b) the parenthetical remark about Food and Loathing. That parenthetical remark does help the reader know what kind of books the author likes, and gives a possible feeling for the tone of the book and certainly shows exuberance. If only I hadn’t been lost in that flood of exuberance and failed to notice the plot of the book until I’d read the comments . . .

  32. This book doesn’t need you.

  33. PS Are there, truly, good books — I mean good books, books that need to be read, even if not by me or you or whomever — languishing out there because the author of said good book couldn’t write an adequate query letter? Are we really to believe this? If not — and that’s the team I’m on — then can we stop talking about fucking query letters? And get back to the anguish etc? Thanks.

  34. I know jack about query letters – not there yet, so I vote for more wallowing in the mire

  35. The story itself isn’t my type of book, though it does sound promising. My concern is with the second paragraph. The degree in engineering and science (while impressive) doesn’t seem relevant to the subject of the novel, so I wondered why the author put that in.

    Also, the last sentence gave me pause. In all the query letter books I’ve read, the author is admonished NOT to ask for advice from the agent; handing out free advice and feedback on an unsolicited query letter isn’t an agent’s job, right?

    Also, the comment about being an avid reader struck me as irrelevant. Most writers are avid readers, but being an avid reader doesn’t make one a good writer.

    I would pass on this one. My (unprofessional) advice to the writer is to cut most of the second paragraph. If he/she has any writing organizations he/she belongs to, include those (or consider joining one). Also, include any prior publications (but don’t say anything if she hasn’t published anything.)

    But do keep the “thank you” for considering your work! And I’ll add that the title is intriguing. If you’re reading this, Author, please re-write the query letter and keep submitting. There is enough that sounds promising in the novel to interest an agent, IMO, but the query letter needs some shaping up.

  36. If this is an exampe of a good query letter, then I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll keep writing, but won’t worry one more whit about my query letter.

  37. My only query reading experience comes from reading queryshark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/)
    Based on her rules I believe this would be a a form rejection. I thought that the only background information you should ever include about yourself is publishing credits/awards and/or MFA’s or BFA’s in creative writing.

    Betsy, I would love for you to spend more time on queries. I’ve read other agents’ takes on this before and it would be great to hear more from you on this subject.

    Thanks!

    • That is the most depressing website I’ve ever seen, and I spend a lot of time at fatguyswithherpes.com.

      • Oh, August. Thanks. I was away from here for a month or more because I was getting nasty messages from here.

        Maybe I’ll go away again and work on the book that 38 agents have asked to read and not one has gotten back to me.
        Make fudge

      • I’m working on a review of Restrepo and needed a good dose of August. Thanks.

      • ha! 🙂

      • On reading the QueryShark blog: When I started having dreams wherein someone constantly said, “And here’s where I stop reading,” I had to quit following it.

        And Lyn, wow, 38 agents reading and no one has responded. Ridiculous on so many levels.

      • Maybe it’s just the slow connection here in India, but I could find no such website, Auggie. Do the guys post profiles with photos and bios, or what?

  38. I missed you Lyn. Are you sure you were getting nasty messages and not just reading our posts?

  39. Rochelle Epstein is the most brilliant name for a character I have ever heard.

  40. As a young person I was encouraged to be inspoken. At age 43 I have just (barely) survived a year of outspokenness. Chief lesson learned: Contrary to popular belief, one human being’s mouth can accommodate up to seven feet at a time–hence my response: Woody Allen is a lovely young man! And what a cook!

  41. The thing missing from the query letter, I thought, was the main conflict–the hint at the mother disapproving (rightfully so, if it’s a Catholic priest!) doesn’t give me a sense of *how* that conflict is presented or possibly resolved. Does that make any sense?

    Unfortunately, while quirky, it was also a little short to give me a good sense of the writer’s overall writing. Probably a ‘form rejection’ as the Query Shark would say.

    However, I did appreciate the background information on the author. I thought it presented a reliable background for the science background of his main character.

  42. Dear Betsy, please accept my apology for leaving obnoxious attempts at sounding purposeful on your blog, I guess I listened to too much punk-rock music when I was an impressionable kid. I almost drove myself nuts trying to be sane and sober in the last year and I have discovered in the last night or two that writers should never be sane and sober. It’s not healthy. You might turn into a tyrant or become anal retentive about plots and meaning and other such rubbish that some people, writers, think are so important. I tried so hard to give my life a good plot in the last year and believe you me, it ain’t worth it. Do take this girl on, although I know that picture came from an archive, because she has a good mind. Literary fiction is bad for you. It might make you think that you can think or even worse you can figure out what this life is about. In fact, I think you should send her a check right away. As far as the schooling as credibility, I think it’s a mute point when she mentions Allen. Forgive her her sin of trying to impress. She was probably sober and sane when she thought to add that bit. God help the poor girl. And good nature to you one and all! And if you are a writer don’t stop drinking and smoking, you’re gonna die in haze of fire and smoke anyway so why be afraid.

  43. This writer sounds promising and funny (I don’t get what people don’t get about the Woody Allen with a period line), but she also sounds like a novice. I think I would reject the query just based on the fact that it has punctuation problems and doesn’t follow the format of good query letter. Doesn’t it follow that what you’d get is a novel with punctuation problems that doesn’t follow the format of a good novel?

  44. No, because the first sentence is about the length, and it’s epic, and the idea of leading out a query letter with something as banal as word count makes me go — you’re seriously a writer? Well, stop.

    And no, because anyone who used the word “overweight” and then vaguely referenced any book of mine, food/weight related or not, I mean, no. No, and then no.

  45. Come-on all you writers, brighten-up! There is no central authority. There are thousands of books published every year. Thousands. Hey, hey, hey!

  46. The story itself might be great, but the language of the query is clunky, wooden, leaving me to suspect the novel might be also. There are people with great patience who can get through such language (or who even like it) just to find out what happens in the end, but I’m not one of them. She sounds like “a very nice person,” and I bet that if she’d self-publish, she could flog the hell out of the book and become a hometown celebrity. I’d encourage her to do that.

  47. Is it just me? None of us could care less what the other readers here think about that query letter — especially the core group who think only of currying favor with each successive assignment you give.

    We are curious, however, about what you — a working agent — think about clever or flippant queries. But even then, even if your interest was piqued enough to respond or to ask for more, we could not consider it a model for our own efforts.

    dw

    • David, you must not know August.

      Well, what if we ARE currying favor? We’re not so dumb as to believe that commenting here will get us representation, although I like to think of Betsy as “my agent” in my more hopeful moments. It gets us, if anything, a bit of attention, guidance, and sympathy, which is more than a lot of people get.

      Your comment implies that there’s nothing attractive about this blog other than Betsy’s power. But we find that Betsy is genuinely kind, caring, sensitive, funny, and sweet, in addition to being bitchy, cutting, and self-loathing, so we just naturally respond to her winning ways. Call that “currying favor,” if you wish. I call it friendship.

  48. Currying favor? Not this crowd. I learned a few things from this post. First, it seems to me that people really want there to be something scientific about the process, or quantifiable, or fair. But it’s truly subjective from start to finish. That’s why it’s maddening. This writer made what I consider to be some classic “mistakes.” Word count, non-writing credentials, risky comparison authors, asking for advice. There’s also the small detail that I mostly represent non-fiction. That said, the title is winning and the premise has promise. I would have probably asked to see the first 50 pages unless the fiction gods had recently shat on me. I write query letters to movie producers now, and I sweat every one. I think being succinct and having a great title is key. Connections and credentials are even more important. Which means we all have to work it harder or trust that the work itself will prevail. Or both.

    • Glad you chimed in. All our usual BS aside, I really did want to know what you thought of it (although my guess was pretty accurate). I’m not so sure I care to see more query letters dissected, but I would love for you to post passages from your favorite books (or projects you took on) and explain why they work.

    • I learned a lot from this, from everyone who’s weighed in, since I’ve never dared to write a real query letter. Betsy, your response to David W. was eye-opening for me. Your reasons for considering the book in spite of the query’s faults was a nice example of what an agent thinks about when the mail hits her desk.

  49. I thought it was a funny, catchy letter. I can’t believe how many people weighed in to tear it to shreds.

    • Now I feel like I was mean. There’s a certain “voice” that I’ve been conditioned to hear as appropriate for writing queries. This query doesn’t have it, which may be what I took for clunkiness. But someone like Betsy can see what’s good in the mix. I’d love to know what happens with this query. I still think self-publishing is a good way to go if he or she doesn’t get signed.

  50. OMG, I’d ask for it in a heartbeat. The writer has a voice, and is fearless without being brazen, (maybe a tad self-conscious, but query letters are killer to write). I not only have an idea of what the story will be, but I can picture it — and the characters. Plus she (or he?) seems to know what the book is about. How rare is that??

    Who cares if the writer has any publishing credits, that’s a non-issue. Plus, I love the juxtaposition between her (his?) science degrees and the desire to write fiction. Not to mention the subtext in telling you about her book groups — she knows what good writing is (classical book group), but even more important, she knows what a story is, and what people are actually reading (contemporary fiction). Okay, I seem to have decided it’s a woman.

    I say, ask for the manuscript!!

  51. I guess by “currying favor” I was referring to the daily exercises in trying to impress Betsy with how like-minded we readers are. Depending on the theme of that day’s blog entry, this might be like-minded disdain for this or that, like-minded interest in something else, or a like-minded willingness to engage in recreational profanity (which loses power when it becomes gratuitious).

    In fact I did not mean to imply that there was no value to the comments section — I like reading the comments as a matter of course. My point was that someone wrote an unconventional, slightly witty or engaging query letter, but there’s nothing inherently interesting or useful about 70 replies deconstructing it.

    Since it’s not advisable for us to adopt that style in our own query letters, the only real thing left of interest is what a professional agent thinks about it.

    My own personal response was to find it too cute, which is the same thing as annoying. I’d have thrown it away without pausing to reflect.

    All that said, it was worth getting to the 70th-something comment in which Betsy said being succinct and having a great title are key.

    Thanks,
    David

  52. Now that I re-read the query letter, it doesn’t seem as “cute” as I remembered it. The most interesting part to me is the reference to the priest.

    Could be off base, but the tone and circumstances bring to mind a female version of Ignatius J. Reilly. Could be brilliant. Or unreadable. What the hell — just ask for a SASE.

  53. I’d ask to see it and I think this is a really fantastic example of how a query letter doesn’t actually have to be very good in order to get a request for more. People sweat the query letters until they are half-dead, the angst that goes into polishing the sentences JUST SO makes most of the ones I’ve seen seem completely overwrought and overwritten.

    The second paragraph of this letter is appalling, but who cares? This book might be hilarious or brilliant or it might be crap, but the concept is just different enough that it would probably be worth a read or, at least, a glance at the first ten pages.

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