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Other People’s Rejection Letters

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The Details

Other People’s Rejection Letters
Two stars
Edited by Bill Shapiro
Clarkson Potter, $22.50

Bill Shapiro liked Johanna, so he asked her out. She said yes, but the next day she sent him this e-mail: “I have enjoyed our, uh, ‘outings’ together and would like to do it again. But I don’t think I want to take it down a dating road.”

Shapiro was crushed, but he copied the e-mail onto his hard drive. “I suppose I kept it for two reasons,” he says. “To beat myself up, and to confirm that my deepest suspicious about myself were true.”

Shapiro shares that anecdote in the introduction to Other People’s Rejection Letters. The pages look beautiful. They’re filled with photocopied letters, Facebook screen shots and ripped-up photos. But much of the content is dull. Most letters aren’t nearly as depressing, heart-wrenching or biting as they could be: “Sorry,” one reads, “we regret to inform you that your registration to attend the Public Memorial Service for Michael Jackson was not selected.”

The two best letters come at the end. One was written by someone who realized she was “the other woman,” and the other by a deeply critical father … who turned out to be F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, the bad letters outnumber the good ones by 3 to 1.

I don’t reject this book entirely, but I don’t want to date it. Sorry, Bill.

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