Wimmer taught English and creative writing at 28 different colleges over a span of more than 40 years, but he had a personal irritation: his own first novel kept getting rejected by publishers and agents. Not a few times, not a few dozen times, but 162 times over 25 years before it was finally accepted and published in 1989, handily beating the record (of 69 rejections) listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. “I don’t want it to be a freak of fiction,” Wimmer said later. “I would like the book to hold up on its own merits.” And it did: Irish Wine wasn’t a runaway best-seller, but it did well, and received critical praise. Wimmer turned the book into a trilogy, adding Boyne’s Lassie and Hagar’s Dream — though the “Lassie” book was itself rejected 83 times. “It’s probably harder to get a novel published than to make a movie,” Wimmer said, and he should know: he wrote the screenplay for Rob Reiner’s The Million-Dollar Infield. Wimmer died May 18 from a heart problem. He was 74.
From This is True for 22 May 2011