Thursday, August 26, 2010
A Letter to Mr. Ernest Hemingway
Hello Everyone: As you may well know, I have been working very hard at becoming the hippest, edgiest, most important, best-selling, best-reviewed, and most popular writer in Today’s World of Literature. Recently, I learned some Very Important Rules for Writing from this Interwire magazine article, that, in turn, inspired another of my Good Ideas, namely to write the following letter, which I wish to share with you.
Dear Mr. Ernest Hemingway:
My name is Hugh Lafferty. I am a writer who lives in Emeryville, California. California is a United State that is far away from the United State where you live, Idaho (which, the map tells me, is the state that is shaped like a handgun, though it does not look like a gun that could shoot at very much, except maybe Canada).
I am an inventor (the Hugh Lafferty Hi-Speed Toenail Clipper), marketing expert (for Kellogg’s new breakfast cereal, Sugar-coated Tobacco Flakes) and the author of such Exciting and Useful Books as Hate Letters to Stephen Colbert; Ouch! 101 Things You Should Not Drop on Your Foot (By One Who Knows!); and Hugh Lafferty’s Affirmative Proscriptions for Life! (For this one, I had the distinct honor of having to print a Surgeon General’s Warning on every copy!)
To get to my point (which my downstairs neighbor and copyeditor, Tom, say I should always do, rather than going on and on, like I am doing now, which is a bad habit I am working hard on correcting and one that I hope to have fixed someday), I am writing to you to convey my sad regret that I am not going to read any of your Famous Books. Among your Celebrated Books of Literature that I will not be reading are The Bell Also Rises; For Whom the Sun Tolls and Across the Sea and Into the Old Man.
The reason I am no longer planning to read your Illustrious Books is because you are, as I have been informed, a Dead Person. In fact, I was surprised to find that you died a very VERY long time ago! And, as I have learned from this Good Advice List on an InterWire magazine, Hip and Contemporary Writers like myself should only read books from living authors only. This is because when people buy a book by a Deceased Author such as Your Self, all of the money is poured into your grandchildren’s swimming pool, instead of water, like everyone else's. (Though I hear swimming in cash is a Very Fun and Nice Thing, I must decline, as I am already deeply afraid of water.)
To confirm this fact, I next asked my copyediting, downstairs neighboring Tom if a Dead Author’s grandchildren would get the money if I bought a used copy of one of your Fine Books and he said “Oh . . . sure, Hugh. The grandchildren get every single penny from every single book a dead writer sells.” Then he made a wise and significant pause. “Especially the used copies.”
Now, I firmly believe that all dead people’s children should be out earning their own living and not mooching off of their parents, Grand and Not-So-Grand. Therefore, to nourish the Good Character of the Hemingway Grandchildren, I shall not purchase any of your books, Worthwhile Works of Literature though they may be.
I must admit however, that my decision leaves me somewhat confused (though not as confused as the time I asked my GPS for driving directions to Pasadena and wound up in Honolulu). Tom pointed out that reading Non-living Authors would teach me to be a better writer and reading your books would especially teach me about such important things a brevity, directness, the fine moral quality of grace under pressure, and how to hunt and kill my dinner (a New and Strange Concept, I must say, as I have always thought food animals like chickens gave themselves heart attacks so we could eat them.)
Tom also told me that reading Dead Authors would give me a sense of cont—continental--conten—make me feel connected to the History and Traditions of Literature and make us all aware of Other Worlds and Points of View That are Not Our Own and Help Us Grow as Persons (though at 5’ 5”, I am plenty tall enough living in this attic.)
Nevertheless, it has become clear to me, that only by avoiding your books, will I become the edgy, contemporary, smash bestselling author I know I am going to be. With the millions of dollars I will make from not reading your books, Mr. Hemingway, I shall be free to work on my next writing project—my debut thrilling novel: Action in Bureaucracy: A Gripping Tale of Inertia.
BUT finally and most importantly, I cannot read your books because, as a Dead Author, you will not write review blurbs praising my books, no matter how many of yours I read and how piteously I beg,whine, and grovel at your feet.
Now, I must say good-bye, because my wife, Gladys, has wisely pointed out that it would be a much better use of my time if I wrote to Still-living Authors and suggest that they not die until after I finish reading their books (Be careful out there, Smartest Man I Have Ever Met!)
Please accept my sincerest apologies for not reading your books.
. . . and thank you for your help.
(Photo by My Downstairs Neighbor)