Category: Related Work
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies
Lou Antonelli’s Hugo-nominated memoir and short story collection hybrid Letters from Gardner: A Writer’s Odyssey documents his writing career. Antonelli’s short stories are published alongside feedback by editors, the most important of them being Gardner Dozois who is the Gardner mentioned in the title.
The most — and, sadly, only — interesting aspect of the book is its format. Reading a book such as this by some very famous writer would be fascinating in its own right. I am thinking of people in the league of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin or William Gibson. I would love to know how their careers began and how they became the superstars they are today. With lesser-known authors, you’d need something remarkable in their personal behind-the-scenes accounts or the editing cycles that the stories have gone through to make a book like this work. And this Antonelli fails to deliver.
After reading the nonfiction parts of the extract that’s available in the Hugo voter packet, I can’t say that I know Antonelli any better than before I opened the pdf. He doesn’t tell a single detail about himself, his life or his thoughts that would arouse my curiosity. It’s a detached account of what he has written and then sent to which editor, peppered with self-congratulation over how good he is with dialogue, because he has worked in a newspaper.
The book is filled with typos and other proof-reading mistakes which is actually a bit ironic, given that this is one of his valuable tips for new writers:
When you submit, make sure you’ve not overlooked the practical aspects of writing, such as proper formatting of your manuscript (or at least formatting it to meet the standards of your market). Proofread carefully. No editor shoves aside a story for one mistake, but they will when typos proliferate. It shows that you’re careless—so why should the editor care?’
All in all, it’s not a Hugo-worthy book in my opinion.