5911 N. Isabell Ave
Peoria, IL 61614

Dear Leland:

  The statements in RQ #29 re the sales departments taking over seem to be true, and the situation has been worrying us writers for some time. Also, some of the big bookstore chains require that MSS be sent to them by publishers, and the stores decide whom they're going to push. Just who in the stores decides I don't know, but my aquaintance with some managers and clerks of the big chains, whom I regard as semiliterate, makes me despair sometimes. Also, I've noticed a tendency in recent years for editors to attempt to get their writers to simplify the language, to remove anything that the semiliterate reader might not understand. Don't include any concepts that might bewilder the readers, etc. The publishers are wrong in this attitude, of course. Eco's The Name of the Rose was a best seller, though I heard that about 26 publishers rejected it. It's certainly not a zip-zip novel.

  [Regarding] Ballard's "painterly" eye, I've always thought of him as the supreme example of the "geometrical" writer, whereas Lafferty, for instance, is "algebraical." A fine example of one who is both geometrical and algebraical is Thomas Pynchon.

  Philip José Farmer