1324 University Street
Arkham, Mass. 02129
Jan. 14, 2005
Dear Mr. Gulbranson,
Received your essay of this Sunday from our mutual
editor/friend at the "e-magazine." He claimed
to want a second opinion, from a real doctor this
time. I wonder who he could be referring to? Maybe
the D.D. doesn't cut it for literary diagnosis.
I'm sorry to hear about Mel's abrupt and
premature retirement, but ending after so long a run is
understandable. Your essay, however, was not. Hoo-ah,
as the man said. Where do I begin? I can't really fathom
why you would even attempt something like this in the
first place. In the text you state that "ideations
have been lurking" at the back of your mind for
a long time. Perhaps the faceless author simply wanted
to be seen, eh? It just doesn't fit.
For one thing, it's too serious. Your analysis
of the "Flawed Hero" archetype is flawless,
but let's be realistic. Who gives a shit? (Actually, I
did slip a copy of the essay on Prof. Armitage's desk,
and he's hot to get some young Turk writers under the
Miskatonic banner. He's talking honorary degree and
comp copies but we can discuss that later.) NW
Drizzle is not a university press, and therefore
you might expect something a little more ... urbane.
Let me tell you something about your readers
that you might not know. There was a focus group a while
back, and it revealed a surprising set of data that 82
percent of the readership hold in common. Allow me to
give you a glimpse of Joe (or Joan) Reader:
- Owns a set of frayed corduroy pants, probably brown.
- Can define the word "bricolage" and use
it in a sentence.
- Has had 1.5 adult homosexual experiences, but was
not really into it.
- Supports the troops, but not the war.
- Drinks beer before liquor, never gets sicker.
- Shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
You see? The highbrow sort of epistemology/nostalgia
vignette you were going for was so ... New Yorker.
The masses, in this case, expect something
arch, slightly crass, altogether literary. You, as the
author of a tongue-in-cheek pop-culture space opera, should
have known that. My advice to you (and your editor) is
to find another way of capping off the story without resorting
to a Twainism and dropping the hero down a backyard well.
So, here are my thoughts on the matter;
take or leave as you will:
You could throw Mel into an established
storyline from the ancient world, say ... Beowulf.
Picture this: Mel defeats Jeuss Rucker,
then Jeuss Rucker's mama, then retires. When someone steals
a Mustang Ranch souvenir shot glass from Frank Burley's
collection, he goes on a rampage over the countryside
and Mel is killed in a climactic, fiery battle.
If you're feeling a little frisky, you could do a stream-of-consciousness
jaunt, a la Beckett, and explore Mel's tiniest thoughts
and notions as he tries to survive on the mean streets.
Okay, maybe not.
Perhaps something with pageantry, to make
Clive Barker's fruity molestation of Grand Guignol look
Christ, what am I saying?
Personally, I think you should go Derida
all over that ass, and deflate the antihero myth with
some scene of domestic dysfunction with Mel and his best
girl. Your editor's idea was to come full circle and end
with a poker game. Very clean and classy.
Now, wait combine the two and I think
you've got a winner. It could go like this (and please
forgive my humble impersonation of your style):
set the pot of coffee on the tablecloth with a clunk,
which seemed unable to penetrate the rustling wall of
Mel's newspaper. She cleared her throat, and he folded
the broadsheet with exaggerated motions.
"Says here another Pathfinder was
arrested for possession. I wonder if they even remember
how to shoot hoop anymore?" Mel shook his head.
"I thought you were looking at the employment
Anne pulled the tie out of her red hair and retied
it, nervously. Mel grunted and made a dismissing gesture
with his hand.
"You want eggs with your waffle?" He said
"If you want."
"Do you want fucking eggs or not? It's a simple
Mel opened his mouth to say something and was cut
off by the ringing phone. Anne reached for the handset,
but he reached out and stopped her.
"We screen calls on Sundays, remember? If it's
the mortgage company, I'll think of something to tell
them on Monday."
Anne blinked, the slightest bit of moisture appearing
at the edge of her eyes. When the beep subsided,
a gruff voice came over the speaker.
"Mel? It's me. Answer th" Mel
"Frank? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Donny's in five. Okay."
He hung up and rose from the table. "I'm going out."
He grabbed his red hoody from the back of the chair
and pulled it on. He paused at the door, seeing Anne at
the table with the first tear rolling down her cheek.
He scowled. "I'll be playing some poker tonight.
Don't wait up."
Mel slammed the door behind him.
See how easy it is?
(As for transporting Mel from behind bars to Anne's apartment,
well, I'll leave that magic show to you and your typewriter's
deft mumbo jumbo; I can't do everything!)
Regardless, I think we can all agree that for Mel to
have gone gracefully, we should never have seen him after
he waded into that ocean. But I won't question your reasons
Well, I should tie this epistle up. My time, as the man
said, is like a Sunday in TJ. It's cheap, but it's not
free. Good luck, and be in touch.
Juan del Facio Endiaz
Editor / Miskatonic University Press