Friday, April 16, 2010

For the Annals of Wayward Press Releases

From Charles Portis's The Dog of the South:
Just then I heard someone at the door and I thought it was the children. Some sort of youth congress had been in session at the capitol for two or three days and children were milling about all over town. A few had even wandered into Gum Street where they had no conceivable business. I had been packing my clothes and watching these youngsters off and on all day through the curtain and now--the very thing I feared--they were at my door. What could they want? A glass of water? The phone? My signature on a petition? I made no sound and no move.
This morning, a few hours before I read the passage above, I found in my inbox the following e-mail:
To Whom it May Concern:

I know about your involvement with orphans and just wanted to let you know about a new book called Orphans and the Fatherless: Making Ourselves Known.

If you would like to check it out, go to

Have a great day!
Now, had this press release taken the usual tack, that of a generically cheery announcement of new book X, I wouldn't have done more than glance at it before deleting it. Like all book bloggers, I get a fair number of press releases for books that aren't really up my alley; that's what publicists do, after all. But how could I not sit up and take notice when told--with, in that "I know about" construction, at least a hint of a hint, presumably unintentional, of a veiled accusation--that I was receiving this press release because of my "involvement with orphans"? To what on earth could this note conceivably be referring?

Let's consult the evidence. I suppose it's possible that two of our cats were orphans, but I don't know that. I did play Oliver Twist in a community theater production of Oliver! back in 1988, and it's true that when I see packs of children racing around and causing an unsupervised ruckus in public, I do have a bad habit of echoing Scrooge and crying out, "Are there no orphanages? Are there no workhouses?" In addition, I will admit, I once wrote a short story that ended with this sentence, one that could, I suppose, be construed as the product of involvement with orphans, if of a decidedly non-Dickensian, post-apocalyptic variety:
That is why, tomorrow, when I do not see my neighbor, I will lower the blinds, all of them, on all my many windows, and I will check the locks, for there is nothing more terrifying than an empty street on a gray afternoon when one knows there are children around.
Come to think of it, maybe I was the right person to receive that press release after all! Carry on, then! Best of luck with getting the word out about your book!


  1. Yes, it's because of your cats.

    Have a good day! :)

  2. Orange juice was nearly expectorated upon an a.m. reading of this hilarious post.

    Of course I also thought of my favorite Greene story.

    cheers - jon