Monday, 13 June 2011

Why Indie Authors Encourage Axe Murderers

I posted earlier about mutual back slapping (MBS) among the self-published community. But of course it existed long before the recent self-publishing boom, and I came across this anecdote the other day...

The author Shirley Jackson had just published her story The Lottery in the New Yorker, and caused a storm of controversy (which she describes in her essay 'Biography of a Short Story'). In amid the ton of hate mail, and the hundreds of letters asking where in the US this tradition happened (no, really) was a rare letter of praise.

Jackson knew she recognised the name, but she had no idea where from. After trying to remember without success for a few days, she wrote a "complimentary but non-committal" (MBS alert...!) reply and posted it. A few days later she was talking to some friends from California (where the letter from the mystery correspondent had come from) and mentioned the name. Really they said, you had a letter from him? His name had been all over the press for weeks; he had been been acquitted on a technicality of murdering his family with an axe. With a horrible sense of realisation, Jackson went and looked at the carbon of the letter she had written; the last line was:

"Thank you very much for your kind letter about my story. I admire your work, too."

11 comments:

Rachel Coles said...

Wow! That's an interesting lesson on knowing the work you comment on...

Darcia Helle said...

I must remember to Google people's names before I reply to emails and blog comments! :)

Alain Gomez said...

Haha! That's great.

R. Doug Wicker said...

What an absolute riot! "I admire your work, too." Really made me chuckle. Priceless.

Andre Jute said...

Even an axe murderer's craft is worth admiring!

Grayson Morris said...

Oh my god. What a delicious, horrible little anecdote of perfection.

Keair said...

Hahaha That's horrible but....hilarious!

Alan Ryker said...

That is way too good.

But you have to stop mentioning MBS, because as I work my way further through your story collection, I'm finding myself thinking that it's one of the best I've read in recent memory, and yet I'm afraid to say so!

James Everington said...

It's got to be mutual backslapping Alan, so if I say you're shit, then you can still praise me...

Oh no, too late. You aren't.

Fox Hill said...

Finally got around to reading this, and I got to admit, it made me laugh out loud. Luckily, in these post-internet days we should be able to avoid -some- of that sort of trouble...

Rabid Fox said...

Wow. That's macabre.