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March 16, 2012, 5:45 p.m.
LINK: www.listsofnote.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 16, 2012

The great British mid-century novelist (and interpreter of foreign correspondents) kept a list of stock replies to readers who wrote him letters. Journalists considering their options in the comments sections beneath their stories might consider adapting a few.

(a) Humble expressions of admiration. To these a post-card saying “I am delighted to learn that you enjoyed my book. E. W.”
(b) Impudent criticism. No answer.
(c) Bores who wish to tell me about themselves. Post-card saying “Thank you for interesting letter. E. W.”
(d) Technical criticism, eg. One has made a character go to Salisbury from Paddington. Post-card: “Many thanks for your valuable suggestion. E. W.”

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