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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Is My Husband Being Snubbed by Famous Writers?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband, a writer who teaches in a low-residency MFA program, sometimes comes into contact with well-known writers who come to his program to read.

On one occasion, he had to write the introduction for the work of the writer who was going to read. That person never said a word to him, even though he sat beside him at the dinner that followed.

Now, it’s true my husband isn’t one to toady up to people. He’s quiet and rather shy, but that doesn’t seem to be any excuse for that kind of rudeness. It happened again when my husband read with another well-known writer (to great applause, as it happened) and the other writer never even said a word to him (like “good reading”).

Is there a solution for this, like “Pour a bucket of water on their heads”? Or is it just “Grin and bear it”?

GENTLE READER: Although not one to defend churlishness, even in writers, Miss Manners notes that, in the situations you describe, the burdens on the well-known writers and your husband are not the same.

As the teacher of the course, your husband is the host. This means it is his responsibility to draw out his guests over dinner, perhaps even to compliment their performances. That they do not reciprocate is a justification for not inviting them back, not for sending them home wet.