Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf

America’s Next Top Novel:

The Judging Panel, in Quotes

by Caoilinn Hughes

Let’s not make this a long goodbye. Just make like your narrative and split.

We didn’t order The Ugly American. Next.

 

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Honey, this is the first chapter. If your character’s a bitch, hide it.

 

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Shelf space is shrinking. Lose the bulky middle if you wanna make the cut.

 

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Don’t cry. You need a spine to make it in this industry.

 

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Did you by any chance grow up in the hood? Or near a hood? Marketing could work with that.

 

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An author should arrive with platforms. #profileperfect #sotweety #likeyourshelfie

 

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We can tell a lot about a book by how its author looks holding it.

Balance it on your head and walk for us. Now twirl? Now lose the jacket.

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I’m struggling with the suspenders of disbelief.

 

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You’re late to the game. We’re not looking for the old wives’ tale.

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Know your angles, girl, and I don’t mean your freaking angle of repose.

 

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Beloved, those opening scenes are farce, but the denouement needs twerking.

 

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Out of all of this, about two paragraphs are usable. Lucky for you, those paragraphs are perfection.

 

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Not to be utterly cold blooded, but this book’s so boring I lay down and died.

 

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I don’t know much about Tibet, except that it needs to be free, which is the same for your novel.

 

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Are you mocking Ms. Jay with this book?

 

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Girl, you put the dung in bildungsroman.

 

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Show, don’t tell. By which we mean, cut words, add pictures.

 

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For your makeover, we’re going to take all of your sentences & shorten them! And we’re bleaching everything!

 

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This is what you call a plus size narrative arc. Booky tooch!

 

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I’m buying a dozen copies for the cover jacket alone. J’adore French flaps. #wingsofthedove

 

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This book made my Botox hurt. It’s an American tragedy.

 

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Transgender’s trending. Could the mother maybe also be the father? I don’t know how it works.

 

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When I could tell it was winding-up, I thought: Thank GHD.

 

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Let’s not make this a long goodbye. Just make like your narrative and split.

 

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What’s great about this is that it’s recyclable.

 

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The judges had great expectations for you. Our bad. Farewell, lovely.

 

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Out of all the pretty horses here, this is the bookies’ favorite.

 

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Your name’s on the cover, girl! Work It!

 

 

I’m struggling with the suspenders of disbelief.

CAOILINN HUGHES is an Irish writer whose debut novel, Orchid & the Wasp, will be published by Hogarth in Spring 2018. It's been extracted in Tin House (Spring 2016). Her poetry book, Gathering Evidence (Carcanet 2014), won the Irish Times Shine/Strong Award and the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, and poems have appeared all over, from POETRY, to Best British Poetry to BBC Radio. She is resident of the James Merrill House this winter.

 

The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review