Thursday, October 23, 2008


So, in Belgium, we've got this 'Stichting Lezen' -- the Reading Foundation. You know, the things you do with books? (Apart from using them as garden stools which mine, by the way, serves excellently as.) Stichting Lezen: The things you do with books, they like them. They promote them even. Go read! they screech from the mountain, directing their yell in the general direction of the general populace.

In the general purpose of said promotional activities, they asked me for a short 'story' on the relationship between reader and writer, 2000 characters including spaces, to be included in a brochure, 68,000 copies of which are to be distributed in train stations and libraries. All on the occasion of a television show where they make writers speak.

They also wanted it, like, now. (Writers are bums, always just lazing around until a perfectly good opportunity -- just like this one! -- comes along.)

I offered them The Tiny Bones, in a Dutch translation.

Still one of the best pieces of flash fiction I've ever done, I feel.

They said no. Too much about writing, The Tiny Bones. Not about the relationship between writer and reader. Maybe, they suggested, I could write something about, you know, actually meeting a reader? Ooh! (Purell!) Maybe... an extremely enthusiastic or... critical or... weird or... disagreeable reader? Ooh again!

Dance, dear writer, dance! We like what you write, except that we don't!

I am too old for writing workshops. So I said no.

And they said maybe next time? Well, dear reader, I just dropped my pants and smiled.*

In the meantime, I'm working on a short essay for the Jewish Quarterly, on the necessity of historical fiction.

*With a McCainian accent.

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