“Advance Promotional Copy: Do Not Read.”
July 20, 2021 7:22 AM   Subscribe

At last, I asked: Why send it to me? “It’s like when you feed a stray cat and it leaves you a dead bird on your porch,” Prickett replied. “I sent it to you as a gift. I mailed Foodies to writers I admire and a few musicians. One film director, I think. A handful of lit professors and Weird Al Yankovic. If you got one, it’s because I liked something you wrote. It could be anything from a critical tome to a tweet. In your case, I liked a short story of yours,” he said. “And sorry, but I’m going to have to keep sending yours to your mom. It isn’t a perfect system but it’s the one we have.” On the Trail of a Mysterious, Pseudonymous Author by Adam Dalva [The New Yorker; archive] posted by chavenet (10 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Well now I want nothing more than to read all installations of Foodie.
posted by komara at 7:54 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

That parsnippet about competitive gardening looked fun.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:05 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing about editors who read submissions at publishing houses and journals. From the first sentence, they are looking for a reason to stop reading your work. This isn't an accusation, or even a trade secret -- they will happily tell you this if you are a writer looking for tips. It's not some kind of conspiracy; they're just overwhelmed because, frankly, the world is more full of writers than it's ever been. Your work is not special, even when it is.

This guy has found a way to make his work special. It won't work again. I wouldn't have thought this would work once, what with people's wariness about strange packages these days, but I am a terrible rulefollower and don't do well with chutzpah. Pure bullheadedness has worked, of course. John Kennedy Toole's mother pretty much made Walker Percy read his manuscript, and Percy got the ball rolling. But the work has to be worth the attention. Is Foodie worth it? It looks like it could well be.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:26 AM on July 20 [6 favorites]

This is a really fun read and I'm definitely intrigued to read the novel.

But also, yes, the genie is out of the bottle now so expect imitations and for major publishing/marketing firms to try to pull the same trick.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:28 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

Maritime geographers forced things to fit into maps and left the vague topography of the seafloor unmoved and marked off.
So many more compelling and less awkward references to old timey geographers left sitting on the table! Maybe it's on purpose? It sure doesn't make me want to read the book.

But, this is fun. The episodic thing is the part that seems weirdest to me. Do writers really send individual chapters to reviewers one at a time?
posted by eotvos at 9:33 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

In 1982, I had to print half a dozen copies of my PhD thesis as well as the official copies for the university / department archives. 5 of those spare copies came back to me, because my thesis committee didn't need a permanent record of the labour. Like the Foodie guy, I thought my stuff was important and interesting and sent each one out to people whom I admired in the field of computational biology. The only person who replied [it was before WTF? was a thing] was Joe Felsenstein at U.Wash Seattle, who said he'd passed it on to a Canadian graduate student because "Canadian Maritimes" appeared in the title. All my field work, analysis and deathless prose sank into oblivion shortly thereafter. Ten years later I joined a select (N=385 and counting) band of people for having found a trifling bug in one of Felsenstein's widely used PHYLIP programs. That bug-fix probably oiled the wheels of science more than my thesis.
posted by BobTheScientist at 10:19 AM on July 20 [10 favorites]

I wouldn't have thought this would work once

I'm also surprised this worked once, and it doesn't make me interested in reading the novel (though the novel doesn't sound like my kind of thing anyway). It just seems very gimicky to me, like people who send their resumes with a shoe and a note saying "hope this gets my foot in the door."
But I'm not even sure the author was trying to get this published (though people are sure going to try that now) - maybe this was more like performance art.
posted by FencingGal at 10:34 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

I like this, thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:44 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

WRT PhD theses. Always assume that the only people who will read it are you, your proofreader and your examiners. Anyone beyond that then you are very lucky.
posted by bifurcated at 11:05 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]

WRT PhD theses II. Sometimes you'd prefer that your examiners didn't read the bloody thing. One examiner [the head of the lab next door] of a friend of mine started reading their thesis with care and attention at the viva. The bugger found a major statistical flaw in Chapter 3, which he should have picked up weeks prior, but which meant that my pal effectively failed their PhD. Her spouse had supported her venture in grad school and they had agreed that pal would get a job immediately so spouse could go to med school. Re-doing Chapter 3 was an impossible addition to the equation. Excuse derail: back to the Arts Block.
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:37 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]

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