Classic Query Finalist #2: Finnegan’s Wake

Yes indeed: one of our brave queriers tackled the seemingly impossible.  Finnegan’s Wake, one of the most notoriously difficult novels of the 20th century, has been querified!



Dear Literestimator Sellingperson,

Finnegan isn’t having a good day.  He’s dead, and his wife has decided to carve his corpse into canapes for the wake.

Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker is also having a bad day. After an unfortunate altercation with some jinnies in the park, he’s been ostracized from polite society.  His wife, ALP, defends him in writing, but the postal system isn’t working and her letter ends up at the council tip.

Soon it becomes clear that events at the park are not what they first seemed – even though what they first seemed wasn’t clear either.  But Humphrey has bigger problems: no one can remember what anyone else is named nor indeed who is related to whom and his flirtsome daughter Issy, poor artist son Shem aund Shaun the fiery boy shouted, naturally incensed, and dull bymeby, bullocky vampas tappany bobs topside jos pidgin fella.  Finnegan awrighty witten  jinnies in the bonny bawn blooches, butnow verjuice this meanderthalltale must unfurl whisple quick before (Goatstrip Finnlambs!) the end of the final sentence becomes the beginning of the first.

My book, FINNEGAN’S WAKE, is a 157,000 word literary novel that might best be described as Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart waiting for Godot in an Irish pub.  I hope you will find it refreshingly unencumbered by the common limitations of plot, grammar, and the English language.

My previous novel, Ulysses, garnered a well-developed fan base that includes many top writers, none of whom actually finished it. Finnegan’s Wake will also appeal to readers with an inflated sense of their own intelligence.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you at the zero hour as ’twere the peal of vixen’s laughter amongst mid-night’s chimes. Shaunti and shaunti and shaunti again!

Best Wishes,

James Joyce


James Joyce… AKA Kim Moravec!

This one inspired passionate debate among our judges: some loved the humor in the query, while others felt it strayed too far into the realm of “what not to do” (on a real query, that is) to be held up as a good example.  Certainly you would not diminish or poke fun at your own work when submitting it for an agent’s consideration!

In the end, however, we concluded that effective satire requires real mastery of the art of querying.  For example, in order to make fun of the narrator’s legendarily difficult “stream of consciousness” voice in Finnegan’s Wake, you need to know how voice works, and how it should be used in a query.   Ridiculously over-the-top as many of the elements in this letter are, every one of them is appropriately placed and craftily written, from that first attention-grabbing sentence to the “Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart waiting for Godot in an Irish pub” log-line.  So it is with great pride (and for those of us who had to read Joyce in school, perhaps a little sense of vindication) that we award Kim the blue ribbon for creativity, and a personal critique of her own novel’s query letter from Donald Maass.


And who is our grand prize winner?  Who has prevailed over all other queriers to take away the golden ticket to DFWcon?  Stay tuned…!

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