Monday, February 04, 2008

Dear Book Publishers: OK, I'll Do It.


Did you know that for every minute you spend reading this brief note, a puppy slated to be euthanized is placed in a loving home?

As you think about that, let me introduce myself. I am a writer. A professional, just like a doctor or lawyer, but with fewer lives saved and less education. Lately I have become possessed of a great notion: to write a book in which I divertingly anatomize themes in popular culture, politics, current events, science and history, deftly draw novel analogies between seemingly unrelated disciplines, and make fun of cats and foreign countries. All to highlight just how screwed we are.

I don't pretend that I am telling you anything new. By reading this far you have demonstrated discernment and a piercing intellect. So I think you already know exactly how thoroughly and hopelessly you are screwed. I can do nothing to un-screw you, or myself, or the god-forsaken planet we live on. For that you will need the doctors and lawyers. I am just a writer and much too busy to salvage the future of mankind. What I can do however is to somehow make you feel OK about the horrifying fate in store for us.

I'm just that good.

Let me give you an example. Did you ever consider that even though we think of ourselves as individuals, our bodies are really made up of gajillions of cells that are living creatures unto themselves, all rubbing themselves all over each other like a pile of dogs in heat and literally swimming in each others most personal fluids? It's (a) true, (b) disgusting, and (c) pretty funny if you think about it.

No, I am not stoned.

It is well-established that the archetypal ancestors of our cells lived as individuals, roaming free on the primordial earth. At one time there weren't even complex cells with flagellum—those tails that cells whip back and forth to commute to work in the morning. There were some cells that were just whips, thrashing around pointlessly, and other cells perhaps sophisticated enough to invent an instrument like the bassoon and learn to play it brilliantly, but with no means of locomotion. The latter lived their brief lives on the margins of tepid ponds, eating only what was available by delivery, like a person so fat that they will not leave their home until they die and two Mexicans pull down enough of the front door frame to get a forklift into the living room.

But over the eons, evolution grafted the hyperactive tails to the fat asses of their more sedentary neighbors, and then proceeded to snap those new franken-cells together with other cells to create ever larger, more capable and stupider looking composite critters, until she finally—and quite by accident—created a critter mean-spirited and selfish enough to undo all the accomplishments of the previous 500 million years of progress. Which was particularly lamentable, because that was when evolution had done some of her best work.

I think you know what critters I'm talking about. Let's all give ourselves a big round of applause.

Soon it will be all over. We will prod our ecosystem into collapse, be engulfed by our own filth and incompetence, and in the hysterical enthusiasm to embrace our doom display a stunningly shameful lack of dignity and humanity. But of course, we need not feel mortified because no one will ever know we existed, and so no one will ever be flabbergasted by what a bunch of losers we proved to be.

But after we're gone, all the cells that have been rowing us through history like slaves on a Greek trireme will be free to roam those limited portions of the planet with low enough toxicity to support organic life, and they won't have to go to Target with us ever again.

Won't that be nice for them?

OK. See that? That was just off the top of my head. Bam! I can do that like two times a day. And the beauty part is that if you already knew all that I said, it serves as a validation of your own superiority, which makes up for the fact that reading it was a waste of time. And if the information was new to you, did you notice how I taught you something fresh and fascinating without for a moment making you feel self-conscious about your own shocking and unforgivable ignorance?

This is my gift. And I want to share it with the world. For money.

Wouldn't you like to get your hands on some of that sugar? You know you would.

Here's my proposal. I'm looking for someone to sustain me in considerable luxury while I think these ideas through. I'll want to sequester myself in the privacy of a top floor suite at the Las Vegas Bellagio with only a single she-goat for fresh milk and an epic supply of vodka. With God's help, and frequent changes of underwear, I think I can squeeze this sucker out in about six months. Faster if the advance is right.

I know what you're thinking: Where do I sign?

Whoa there, big fella. A girl likes to get to know a guy before she shows him what's under her duvet. However, I am not a girl. I am ready to go RIGHT NOW. All you need to do is respond to this note with one word: YES. And a check so large that it simply blows me away.

Tomorrow you may wake and wonder: what have I done? You might even be inclined to pick up the phone and cancel the payment you sent.

Do not do that.

Think how humiliating it will be if your boss finds out that you nearly bet the entire future of your company on an unknown writer based on a patently manipulative, if brilliantly conceived, one-page email of uncertain origin. Were you on crack? Place the phone receiver back on the hook. Next, visit each of the links below to read some samples of my work, praying feverishly all the while that you will therein find some inkling of the talent that yesterday led you to throw away your career and with it, your family's future.

Consider the incandescent wit of a little piece titled Nuclear Holocaust was Better Than Global Warming in which I conclude that it is far better to be immolated in a flash of all-consuming plasmic flame than to be asphyxiated by slow degrees.

Be repulsed from the first sentences of my exposé of public servants and role models who cannot keep their pants zipped in restrooms. Then read on, so that their lurid trysts and vile hypocrisy repulses you again and again.

Do your part to defend the institution of marriage. The gays want it all for themselves. Fight for your sense of martyrdom and your tax write-offs!

Quake when confronted with the implications of the coming police state heralded by a regime of surveillance more invasive than anything your parents subjected you to when you were seventeen.

And what's so bad about Jimmy Carter? Do you find peanut farming and Gomer Pyle accents funny, Mr. Tough Guy?

Read them. Then read them again. The second reading will not alter whatever opinion you developed on first perusal, but it will allow a few precious hours more for your check to clear.

There. Now our fates are bound up together. We have both wagered all on my success. Or, actually, you have wagered all. Should I fail, or fail to even try, I will still be one fat book advance richer than I am today. You, however, will be utterly ruined.

So will begin our roller-coaster relationship. In your old age, you will look back on this time with wistful fondness, testimony to the power of senility to replace your actual memories with different memories that have no basis in fact.

Call me and leave a message, asking whether I've begun work. Call me again and leave another message to inquire why I did not respond to your first call. Call me. Call and call and call until my voice mailbox is full. Call a plumber to remove the hair that is falling out in clumps and clogging your shower drain. Phase one of our love affair is complete.

Open the filthy package that arrives at your office. Take the tattered manuscript from the envelope and weep with relief to be holding some physical product of our partnership. Clutch it lovingly in your shaking hands, but do not read it. Why take a chance on extinguishing the only flicker of hope that has illuminated your withered soul in months? Send it to the printer!

Meet me in person at last. Feel underwhelmed. Have one too many mojitos. I'm like a motorcycle wreck. You can't look away.

Send me on a book tour. Christ! What the hell is the matter with me? Why won't I bathe? Do I even own a tie? Field angry calls from your press agents around the country.


A messenger arrives. You have sold four million copies in the Netherlands. Induce vomiting just before the barbiturates enter your blood stream.

Roll out an international marketing campaign. Leverage accusations of plagiarism to generate publicity. Make more money than you know what to do with. Settle out of court. Grace the cover of Publisher's Weekly and be promoted to CEO. Be despised for your success by every single person in the business.

This could be your fairy tale. Call me. Just this once, I will answer.


Your future star client


LeeAnna said...

I would direct your attention to the Book of Genesis, which indicates clearly that each slimy rotten little cell was created for a purpose.

Good luck with this proposal.

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