I wouldn’t want to risk making things between me and Gawker too warm and fuzzy by sharing their disdain for Steve Almond, so I guess I might as well present them with an easy target for mockery by revisiting the literary aspirations of Michael Patterson, the eldest son in Lynn Johnston‘s syndicated comic strip, For Better or For Worse. (Or maybe I’m cannily trying to stifle their barbs by anticipating and shrugging them off!)
Here’s some highlights from this week’s strips, as Michael’s novel, Stone Season, “finally” gets published after having been acquired in late January. (That’s right, his wife is complaining about delays in a nine-month turnaround for a debut literary novel—and, yes, I suspect the symbolism in the time frame is intentional.) What’s it about, you ask? Luckily, there’s a bit of a snyopsis buried in the FBoFW website:
“Sheilagh Shaugnessy… has lived for seventeen years, now with a ruthlessly cruel and controlling man. She has learned how to grow and preserve her own vegetables. She has butchered and salted venison and beef. She has given birth four times—two stillborn children and two living. The living buried the dead. Harvey Rood, whose surname she has refused to accept (despite the legalities of marriage) is drinking more and is home less. Their car, no longer driveable, lies buried under a blanket of snow. Their one reliable connection to town is Ben, a sturdy five-year-old, good-natured gelding who knows his way home, even if his master is too drunk to guide him…”
In geek circles, we have a technical term for this sort of thing: Deep Hurting. But through the pain, I still get to laugh at the idea that that story could possibly get a debut writer on national television, though the bits about a story in the local paper, and a signing at the local mall’s chain bookstore, are a bit more plausible. And then I really get to laugh at his getting all excited about receiving ten complimentary copies of the novel from his publisher. Man, he must have one lousy agent, if that’s all they’re going to front him.