February 13, 2013
The world’s worst book proposals, written by one man
by Sal Robinson
There are some pretty weird books out there (I don’t know if you’ve seen this one about How To Sharpen Pencils? or this other one where a famous Oulipian tells you about his dreams?), but a genius named Michael Moran has recently been broadening the frontiers of weird books immeasurably on his blog “100 Books I’ll Never Write.”
As the name suggests, Moran’s not actually writing a book called, say, The Time Management Secrets of Famous Philanderers: he’s just writing book proposals, one after another, for one hundred of the most boring, cringe-inducing, eyebrow-lifting, and frankly hilarious books I’ve ever heard of.
Take, for instance, the proposal for Tweet: A Homeopathic Novel:
Here’s my groundbreaking concept for the next Literary Fiction smasheroo.
The story of online communication has been one of inversely snowballing brevity. Page-long blog posts gave way to 50 word Facebook status updates. Status updates were in their turn supplanted by 140 character Twitter messages. Now even Twitter’s laconic dominance is threatened by wordless Instagram photos …. And yet throughout this turbulent decade the form of the novel has remained imprisoned in a sort of literary aspic.
I want to liberate serious writing from the metaphorical brown pork pie jelly of print, and I know just how to do it.
I’m going to write a 140 word novel on Twitter and illustrate it with blurry photographs of my local Waterstones from Instagram. Then I’ll print it out in 3pt Comic Sans on the cheapest, pulpiest paper available and dissolve the pages in a lake.
Once that’s done, I can make a fortune selling phials of the lake water on Amazon for £13.99 a pop. Or selling phials of Amazon water in Lakeland, whichever works for you.
I haven’t quite figured out how to get a liquid-based novel onto the Kindle but believe me I will have done so by publication date.
The world is getting hotter. People are getting thirstier. Imagine if you will, dear publisher, the universal appeal of a work of fiction that one could, in the event of emergency, drink.
Or the proposed content of The Ultimate Book of Fascinating Ficts:
A fict is a nugget of information that looks like a fact, feels like a fact, but is actually nothing of the kind. It has all the satisfying mental heft of an actual fact, but can never go out of date like a fact will. Here are a few sample ficts to give you a flavour of the book:
Fict 15: Whales are thought to be at least as intelligent as Humans. They not only have a distinctive language and mourn their dead, they also go on unsuccessful diets every January.
For each idea, Moran has also created a proposed jacket, making able use of pre-loaded fonts and appalling clip art. The jacket for Knackered: How sleep-deprived politicians are destroying America may represent the nadir of this.
Though there are a lot of nadirs on this blog.
The best part? He’s only at #32. 68 more bundles of publishing glory to go!
Sal Robinson is a former Melville House editor. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.