In a 1941 letter Edgar Rice Burroughs told his daughter Joan: “If anyone says a kind word about my work nowadays, as you did, I nearly break down and cry.”
Why? In the typescript posted at Letters of Note Burroughs explained:
I am getting damned sick of hearing people apologize to me for reading my stories, or pretend to grouse because they have had to read them to their children, or say that they used to read them while they were in kindergarden [sic] but have not read any for years and years. It used to amuse me, but I guess I must be losing my sense of humor.
But ERB had already thought of a stunning comeback and confided it to his daughter:
“Well, you homely looking abortion, if you had the brains of a cross-eyed titmouse you’d keep your fool mouth shut instead of knocking inspired literature that has entertained a hundred million people for over a quarter of a century !!!”
He clearly was ahead of his time. In 1941 such vitriolic wit had to be confned to private letters. But transported to the 1970s could have held up his end of an Ellison/Asimov-style faceoff. Or today he would have made a helluva blogger.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]