Friday, January 18, 2013

Other People’s Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro

Whether your curiosity is driven by schadenfreude or sympathy, there is a lot of appeal in this substantial volume of collected rejection letters, notes, emails, and texts.  Rejection is a universal experience and there is something for everyone to connect to in Bill Shapiro’s well-curated tome.  These rejections run the gamut, from the official rejection of Mark David Chapman’s parole to the Museum of Modern Art’s letter rejecting a painting from Andy Warhol, with plenty of Dear John letters, notes between estranged parents and children, and good, old-fashioned thanks-but-no-thanks letters from prospective employers.  

Preserving most of the entries in their original state (facebook page, toilet paper, cell phone screen, note passed surreptitiously in class) makes Other People’s Rejection Letters a uniquely visually stimulating browse.  There are even a handful of rejection letters from galleries that have been fully-illustrated by the rejected artist!  

Any solid collection of written rejection will include a bit of colorful language and there is a tiny smattering of profanity sprinkled throughout.  What may be more interesting to teachers is the range of register, tone, and voice represented.  Many of these collected letters seem tailor-made to teach the idea of audience and purpose. --Regan Schwartz

Shapiro, B, ed. Other People’s Rejection Letters. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2010. Print.

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