Does anybody actually read those classics-trash fiction mash-ups? I ask because I'm convinced that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the Pet Rock of its generation -- an idea so delightfully absurd that it made vast numbers of people impulsively buy it to give to somebody else. I glanced at P&P&Z in a bookstore, read the first couple of pages, thought "Got it," and put it back. The book, however, was so tremendously profitable that it spawned legions of imitators. If there are readers for this sort of thing, we've just witnessed the birth of genre. If not, then the publishing industry has just lost a lot of money.
This happens from time to time.
I've been musing over the phenomenon because I just saw Zombies of Lake Woebegotten in the bookstore, authored by one "Harrison Geillor." Now, I"m not offended by the idea. Probably, once he got over the momentary cognitive dissonance, Garrison Keillor felt mildly pleased that his work was deemed sufficiently famous to be parodied. But whenever I see a book as strange as this one seems to be, I can't help wondering what writing it was like for the author.
The way I see it, there are two possibilities. One is that the author is a hack writer who saw the opportunity to make a fast buck and pounded out ZoLW in a caffeine-fueled month. The other is that he or she is a writer of some ambition who for whatever reason thought the mash-up would be a good idea. I can imagine myself thinking this when I was much, much younger. And then writing the thing, constantly referring back to Keillor's collections and broadcasts for inspiration. So that with every page I was brought face-to-face with the fact that Garrison Keillor was a writer who has a place in American literature alongside Mark Twain and James Thurber, while I -- the imaginary I who thought the book was a good idea -- was reduced to adulterating his oeuvre with zombies.
That's very close to my idea of Hell.
And it's why, when it comes to the identity of the anonymous author of this particular work, I'm rooting for the hack.
And in the mail today . . .
The City of Philadelphia has, in its wisdom, decided that I may sell tobacco products if I wish! In fact, they're pretty sure that I already do. "Philadelphia Department of Revenue records indicate that your business may sell tobacco and/or tobacco-relate products," they write. And they want their cut. In fact, if I don't file my Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Products Tax return by January 31, 2011, I'll be fined five thousand dollars.
Fortunately, I can apply for a Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products Tax Exemption. Unfortunately, if they don't receive it within three weeks, the Department of Revenue will open a Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Products Tax account for me.
My only question is: Did Mayor Nutter have to fill out one of these forms? Because so far as I can tell, there's no less reason to suspect him of selling tobacco and tobacco-related products than to suspect me.