After reading my novel Caracole he [James Merrill] voiced my worst fears, saying "That first chapter, my dear!" and rolling his eyes.
I wonder whether that was in manuscript or publication, and if the former, what changes White made, if any.
A much longer passage from My Lives (p. 212) is worth quoting in full but I'll restrict myself to:
I told someone the book was as if a student was studying world literature and modern European history and fell asleep on the night before the final and dreamed a long, nasty dream.