March 21, 2018
James Comey’s book is getting outsold by a gay bunny named Marlon Bundo
by Simon Reichley
Books, as anyone in publishing will tell you, are like little fragmentation grenades made out of ideas. They explode—bang!—and just like that there are new ideas everywhere, embedded in the puckered flesh of the body politic. Yessir, it’s a deadly serious affair, publishing a book.
And sometimes two books, two fearsome thoughts, collide in the ancient and bloodstained marketplace of ideas and begin a struggle for the soul—and the future—of a nation. Ladies and gentlemen, that time is now, and the two books in question are former FBI Director James Comey’s forthcoming memoir A Higher Loyalty, and… A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Marlon Bundo and Jill Tweiss, illustrated by E.G. Keller.
We’ve all heard of A Higher Loyalty, a hotly anticipated political memoir that many are hoping will finally explain exactly what the fuck has been going on for the last two years. What was all that garbage with Hillary Clinton’s emails? What’s it like to cross-examine Martha Stewart? What’s it like to get fired by the dumbest sack of shit alive? All these questions and more are answered in the super-duper-secret manuscript being passed around like the nuclear football by folks at Flatiron Books. This is a serious book, people!
But for all that secrecy and seriousness of intent, it’s losing the titanic struggle for the eyes and ears of the American public to a parody book. When Vice President Mike Pence’s pet bunny, Marlon Bundo, became the star of a kids’ book this week (written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte and illustrated by his wife Karen), TV comedian John Oliver decided to jump and roast the homophobe-in-chief by releasing his own book, written by Jill Twiss and with illustrations by EG Keller, which tells the story of Marlon Bundo falling in gay love with a handsome bunny named Wesley. As Liam Stack writes at the New York Times, the parody book (which Oliver emphasizes is totally wholesome and child-friendly) has rocketed to number one on Amazon’s print rankings, just edging out A Higher Loyalty, which sits in the silver medal spot, as of Tuesday morning. It’s sold right through its first printing. Proceeds are going to the Trevor Project and AIDS United.
Excellent as that fundraising is, those sales also skipped right over independent booksellers — the show has made it available only through Amazon and other large retailers. San Francisco indie Green Apple Books took to Twitter to point out that this may not be great.
Still, it’s astounding that Americans want a parody children’s book about a gay bunny in the White House more than they want another boring political memoir about how fucked-up everything is. And more than they want a book about the Vice President’s bunny written by his actual family. Really, who can blame them?
Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.