July 25, 2016
Alan Moore uses grade schooler’s fan mail as blurb
by Ryan Harrington
The majority of author mail that comes in care of a publishing house can be divided into three categories:
- “Dear Beloved Author: I am in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. Please tell my story…”
- “Dear Beloved Author: While far from an expert in the field in which you are a lifelong expert, I must take issue with ….”
- “Dear Beloved Author: You are beloved for these many many reasons….”
Today we shall concern ourselves only with the third category, particularly its cutest and most prevalent iteration, the grammar school writing assignment wherein students compose notes to their favorite writers. The common measures of success in this genre are, crucially, a passing grade from the teacher and, as a bonus, a response from Beloved Author.
But in Northamptonshire, England, Naseby Church of England Primary School student Joshua Chamberlain has exploded that rubric. As a result of his assignment—a note to the biggest name in comics, Northamptonshire native Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, among others—Joshua’s name and a quotation from his letter will be featured on the jacket of Moore’s forthcoming second novel, Jerusalem.
We insiders call this a blurb, and Joshua’s—using an emphatic superlative that lesser authors, fearing retribution in literary circles, might shy away from—reads, “All in all, you are the best author in human history. Please write back.”
David Barnett reports for the Guardian that the master graphic novelist’s response to the student promised to be short, but far exceeded any expected reply, featuring such gems as, “Take care of yourself, Joshua. You’re obviously a young man of extraordinary good taste and intelligence, and you confirm my suspicion that Northamptonshire is a county touched by the gods,” and bearing the signature, “Alan Moore. Best Author in Human History. In your face, Shakespeare, Joyce and Cervantes!”
In addition to the praise so coveted by publishers, Joshua’s letter to Moore also included some engaging literary criticism, such as a discussion of V for Vendetta wherein the masked anarchist’s bombing of parliament is described as “very cool.” No word yet on what grade Joshua received on the assignment.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.