MARK--YOU ARE A TOTAL LOSER AND YOUR BOOK (AND WRITINGS) SUCKS! BEST WISHES DONALD P.S. AND I HEAR IT IS SELLING BADLY
After which he seemed content to occupy himself otherwise, until last summer, when the Times reviewed a book I wrote, “Character Studies,” which included my portrait of Trump. “That Trump is already a caricature of a caricature makes him too easy a target, with neither the foot speed nor the wit to defend himself,” the reviewer, Jeff MacGregor, wrote. Three weeks later, the Times Book Review published a delightfully deranged letter from Trump in which he set forth his credentials—“I’ve read John Updike, I’ve read Orhan Pamuk, I’ve read Philip Roth. . . . I’ve been a best-selling author for close to 20 years. Whether you like it or not, facts are facts”—and dispensed with both MacGregor and me. We were “losers” who “just don’t have what it takes.” Facts.
Immediately, “Character Studies” levitated many thousand notches on the Amazon list. How could I thank Trump? Money, I thought, he likes money. I wrote him a check for a thousand dollars, then sensed that that was excessive. I tore it up and wrote another check, which I sent, along with a letter:
“Dear Donald: Thank you so much for that wonderful letter to the New York Times. . . . Though I’m sure that you, as an author, are aware that it’s considered bad form to pay the people who review one’s books, I nevertheless enclose a check for $37.82, a small token of my enormous gratitude. You’re special to me. Also, I enclose a couple of Band-Aids. Because you seem unable to stop picking at this particular scab, these should come in handy. Cheerfully,” etc.
Two weeks later, an envelope arrived, cream-colored with a gold-embossed “TRUMP” logo and, inside, my letter, returned, with a neatly written message from Trump in thick black uppercase letters: “MARK—YOU ARE A TOTAL LOSER—AND YOUR BOOK (AND WRITINGS) SUCKS! BEST WISHES DONALD P.S. AND I HEAR IT IS SELLING BADLY.” I treasure this memento. Indeed, it is now framed, along with a photocopy of the cashed check for $37.82; evidently he needed the money.
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