Dear Ms. Gilmore,
Thank you very much for the opportunity to read your memoir, Gilmore Girls. While we enjoyed many facets of the book, and you are clearly a strong writer with a unique story to tell, after careful consideration we have unfortunately decided that we are not the right publisher for this project.
We are always on the lookout for fresh stories with an engaging cast of characters. These are especially rare in the field of memoir. Initially, we were quite taken in by the quirky cast of dreamers and semi-ironic strivers and would-be entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, innkeepers, hangers-on, whimsical small-town character types, and artists that make up the townsfolk of Stars Hollow. We say “initially” because, well, to put it bluntly – and we hope you take this as legitimate but subjective feedback from a group of people who admire much about your work – a little goes a long way. While we enjoyed following some of your secondary characters down a few blind alleys, cocked our heads to the side and made a quizzical but amused face (we are confident you will follow when we say we’re thinking of Jim Halpert from The Office here) as they faux-tilted at one windmill and then another, well, by the time they got to the fifth or sixth or thirteenth such windmill, we were no longer looking at the camera like Jim from the American-version of The Office so much as Tim from the British version of The Office. Which is to say, our reaction evolved from “that’s quirky!” to something more along the lines of “get us the fuck out of here.”
The book also does an admirable job of conveying a strong sense of place. We found, however, that we had differing reactions to the portrayal of your hometown, Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Some of us felt very much a visceral and deep-seated desire to actually live in this town, a profoundly confusing experience for this group of dyed-in-the-wool urbanites and proud denizens of Brooklyn. Some of us googled. Two of us signed up for Blue Apron and we are still not even really sure why. Mostly we wound up looking at Pinterest and wondering vaguely what had gone wrong with our lives, why we never actually feel fresh-scrubbed, why we never seem to have the time to string lights along the edges of our spaces, why we have such small, not-grand spaces to begin with, how our lives had turned out so differently than we had imagined when we were walking the halls of our own elite New England prep schools.
Please note that this is strictly a marketing concern: in our experience, women do not buy books that make them feel strange pangs of mordant longing for an archetypal New England town that may never have really existed in the first place (we understand the blurring of fiction and nonfiction genres and are open to work that exists in between these spaces, but still: a tango club?). This is a business decision and does not reflect on the quality of your writing.
We talked a lot about tone and genre when we evaluated our responses to Gilmore Girls. Please note that while most of the feedback here is, as we said, completely subjective and should be received as such, we will take a brief diversion to say that we are absolutely positive that no chapter of a successful memoir will ever be described as “Baz Luhrmann-esque.”
Our most significant concerns have to do with the narrative arc. This is always difficult to discuss in a memoir, but we feel that you are a talented enough writer to deserve our honest feedback, and some of us also feel that we “know” you well enough to believe that you will take this kind of feedback in the best possible way: you are, after all, “A Gilmore.” As editors we are in the business of making long stories short, so we will go ahead and say it: the current narrative arc belongs to your mother and happens almost exclusively off the page. We do not mean to demean your experiences, so much as to say that the most interesting reading – the brutal decision to have a child at the age of sixteen, being cast out by a rich family, and then making a life as a young single mother and eventually, and through the daughter, reaching a kind of peace with the family that had left her behind – is simply the mother’s story. That story takes place behind these scenes of this one, but what we are left with is not a compelling story arc but a bauble, a string of lights from which we have to pull away before we stare too closely, an idea of a thing but not the thing itself.
Thank you again for entrusting your work to us. You have made us think. A few of us have bought knit caps this very afternoon. We may run out to Greenwich this weekend and look around a little and just kind of think about what exactly it was that we wished for ourselves, back in our own halcyon days.
We do hope you understand that this is a very subjective decision. We strongly encourage you to stick with your writing, and at the risk of seeming impertinent, to not worry so much about your high school love life, or that box of underwear that seems to have gone missing. Please tell your mostly delightful-seeming Mother that we pass along our best regards, and best of luck placing your work elsewhere.