Only one letter per person, please. They should be posted in comments and may be submitted up until 10pm tonight EST. I will attempt to answer as many as my schedule allows (perhaps over the course of several days) but I reserve the right to pick and choose. I do not promise to be as pithy as the original Miss Manners (see below). Sense of humor required.
Dear Miss Manners:
Last night I ran into a classmate of mine whom I haven't seen in ten years. I know he's a writer now, but I didn't feel I could say anything about his new book because I haven't read it and he would be sure to find that out if I tried to talk about it. And yet I feel I should have said something, if only because he didn't mention what he was doing and seemed to be waiting for me to acknowledge that I knew, if you know what I mean. What is the right thing to say to an author when you honestly can't say "I loved your book" ?
Few people, and no writers, have such high standards about compliments as to accept only those that will pass a rigourous test for veracity. Miss Manners experience is that an author will accept with joy any remark except "How many have you sold?" or "Did you know it's being remaindered now?" or "I'd love to read it--please send me a copy."
From Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin (Warner Books Trade Paper edition, p. 616)