THE AMERICAN WEST (mostly): Fact and Fiction (mostly fiction)

"NOBODY GETS TO BE A COWBOY FOREVER." -- Chet Rollins (Jack Palance) in MONTE WALSH (NG, 1970)

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Sunday, April 30, 2017


Ms. Nan A. Talese
Doubleday Publishing
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Dear Ms. Talese:

I saw online that you were the contact person for Doubleday Publishing and that manuscripts must be submitted by agents because you do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Well, relax Nan, that isn’t why I am contacting you.  

No, I have several other reasons I would like to discuss with you:

I became aware of the book Dear Committee Members when a friend recommended it to me.  I also liked the opening line that you all used in your description of the book: Finally, a novel that puts the 'pissed' back into epistolary. Very clever.

It is a clever book.  Epistolary novels are tricky propositions and Julie Schumacher pulled it off.  She was able to do that because it is obvious that she is intimately acquainted with the academic world that she describes in the epistles that her protagonist, a professor of creative writing and literature, writes to – well, to everybody – but especially to the many administrators, who, by the way, outnumber the full time classroom teaching professors at his university.  That places his institution smack dab in the mainstream and I could feel his pain.

Some of the epistles made me laugh out loud and some of them made me cuss like a sailor, because they were so on target.  I spent many years as the chair of my department in the small college where I taught.  I took the job for the same reason that people in Schumacher’s book did: because nobody else would take the job and somebody had to.  It was a thankless job and I accomplished little, but somebody had to do it.  I also took on the distinguished sounding job of President of the Faculty Forum, because nobody else would take the job and somebody had to.  It was a thankless job and I accomplished little, but somebody had to do it.

But here is the real reason I am contacting you.  I purchased a first edition (used, but nevertheless, first edition), hard cover copy of the book. When I reached page seven in my reading, I discovered that there is no page seven. There also is no page eight – or nine – or ten. They were not torn out.  It is obvious that they were never there.  Is this what putting “pissed back into epistolary” means?  If so, it worked.  

I’m not requesting a refund, because I really enjoyed the book.  In fact, it is my favorite book of the year.  But I do think that I am owed something.  By my calculations there are at least two – maybe three – epistles missing from my copy.  I am asking that you please do one of two things: 1) send me the missing epistles in an email or 2) mimeograph them and send them via USPS.

I trust that since you are not being swamped with unsolicited manuscripts that you will be able to find the time to do this for me.

I await your reply -- or the missing epistles.

Stormy W.

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