In Which It Should Be Aggressive And Titillating

Yom Kippur



Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Please find the attached manuscript for your consideration. I’m of two minds on the title. The first is that the novel should be called something aggressive and titillating, along the lines of its tensions.

The second is the title should be maudlin and ceremonial, so as not to imply too plainly what comes ahead.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

Thank you for sending along your novel “Loose Change.” Norton has purchased an option to publish the work under that title. Congratulations are in order. You should receive the relevant documents by postal mail shortly, and a check for the advance we discussed.

We did feel that “Death Cum” was a provocative and possibly interesting title, but our editor at Norton preferred the other, and ultimately I saw no reason not to accommodate her wishes.

There is one change to the text the publisher requested. They asked that the phrase “demon pussy” on page 27 be changed to “demon vagina.” (There’s a cross promotional opportunity with Urban Outfitters.)

Warm regards and pleased to be working with you,

Ellen Armstrong


Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I have yet to receive the check you mentioned. Sometimes it’s difficult to get mail here. The postman is extremely envious. You won’t be surprised to learn he also fancies himself a writer. Two days ago he hit my car with the bumper on his truck. I think I may be afraid of him.

Great news about “Loose Change.” I have sent my latest work, “The Fasting of the Jews” via UPS. I’m eager to receive your notes and thoughts about it.

Next time you’re in Seattle I look forward to meeting you in person.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

We received your manuscript “The Fasting of the Jews.” Norton is thrilled by how prolific you are. The editor I am in contact with there wants to release three novels by you in the next financial year. Is this feasible?

Our only concern is about the title for this sequel (?). There are no Jews and no fasting in the novel. Pls explain? Norton has pushed for “Looser Change.”

UPS is fine, but be aware that sometimes they deliver their mail to the USPS under their Innovations banner. It might be returned to you via your jealous mailman. Ha!

So pleased to be working with you.

Ellen Armstrong


Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Please let this be your notice that the title “Looser Change” is not acceptable to me.

“The Fasting of the Jews” was not called such lightly. I am planning a proper sequel to “Loose Change” (credit goes to you for the original’s success), which is to be titled “Godfather Clause.” It is in part a reimagining of the making of The Godfather if Al Pacino were a woman… the other part is a murder mystery.

I continue to worry about my postal worker. I drove to his house (he lives only a few blocks away), and he has several plants in his garden from which toxins could easily be derived.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

We completely understand your preference about the title of “The Fasting of the Jews.” We’re prepared to go with it, but after the novel is translated for Arab countries, we’ll be titling the release there “Windows 8 for Dummies.” The international market can be difficult to understand.

I was incredibly thrilled to receive “Godfather Clause.” It is your best work yet.

I’ll be in Seattle a week from Thursday. Hoping to say hi and drop off the contracts for “Godfather Clause.”

Ellen Armstrong


Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I regret I was unable to enjoy the pleasure of your company during your trip to Seattle. I am currently confined to my small (but pleasant) house. My mailman waits outside, either in my lawn or the street it faces. Yesterday I believed I saw him leave, but today when I opened the front door I could hear him in the back. I closed and locked it, and shook for hours afterwards. You cannot even imagine the damage to my new BMW.

He leaves endive, charchavinah and other bitter herbs at the end of my driveway. It may be better not to meet, at least at my home.

Hopefully you can FedEx the documents so that we can be assured they will not fall in his hands. I look forward to speaking with you when this is all over.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

When I left the restaurant in the hotel, I found I was angry, which doesn’t happen very often, I can assure you. You’re a valued client. I don’t want to trade on your good nature, and I’m sure you would not want to trade on mine.

I placed the documents in your mailbox myself. Again, I offer my congratulations on your third published work in the past nine months.

Ellen Armstrong


Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I am the real David Larkin, the true author of “Loose Change.” Whatever arrangements you seem to have made with my mailman after he wrote you under my name are unfortunate. Identify theft is a serious crime. But on to new business.

I have completed a followup to “Loose Change” which I have titled “Authorial Intent.” Would you consider shopping the ms around to publishers?

I have decided to go by the pen name Mark Arturo.

You know in your heart who this is.

Mark Arturo is a writer living in New York.



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