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Friday, February 1, 2013

Royalty Checks

I recently read something  by one of my favorite comic writers, Dave Barry. In among his usual banter was something that really caught my attention - namely his mention of John Kennedy Toole. He listed John Kennedy Toole as one of his own favorite comic writers. And this got me thinking.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story of Mr. Toole, I will tell you that he wrote a couple of books, one of which was A Confederacy of Dunces, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. But he never got to enjoy any of the fame associated with winning such a prestigious prize, for he was dead at the time. In fact, he never got to even see his manuscript published, for it was published after he died - he committed suicide. It was only the persistence of his mother that got the thing published in the first place.

Now imagine, if you will, the scene in which his mother, refusing to let go of her dream, and his manuscript, sits across the room from the publisher, until he at least reads the thing in front of him. That thing is a collection of yellow legal pads, which was the only copy in existence of his magnificent manuscript. Now, the publisher has agreed to read the beginning of this manuscript, and thereby, with a good conscience can tell the woman that this manuscript just didn't meet their needs. But that is not what happened. The publisher began reading this story in front of him, and he continued reading, and he continued, and continued, then looking across the room at the woman, said rather humbly that he would personally see to it that this manuscript would be published.

What an incredible tragedy! Now, I suggest that you find a copy of this most wonderful book, and do what that publisher did, just sit down and start reading it. And I challenge you to stop until the end of that masterpiece. I promise you that Ignatius J Reilly will become more than just a name to you.

Another thing that Dave Barry mentioned in his ramblings was royalty checks, and let me tell you that his are much, much larger than mine ever could be. But even mine are so much bigger than John Kennedy Toole ever received. And this, my friends, is the nature of the publishing business - it is not anything fair or just. It just simply is.

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