The Bargain Book Bin: From the Desk of Brian Jacques
Dear Mr. Mackey,
The harsh and frosty winds descend upon my winter writing home with a fierce howl, sending great powdery waves of snow around the towering red brick of my writing tower to settle in a lacy halo over the cold dirt of the garden. I have recently finished my breakfast of a thick slice of rich honeyed bread, slathered thickly with fresh butter and tart strawberry jam, all washed down with a creamy glass of good milk. I sit now at my writing desk, lovingly carved with a wee x for every hundred dollars I have relieved from the world's children, and I consider grimly your note concerning my latest and, I hope, final work in the Redwall canon.
I appreciate the kind way in which you approached your misgivings regarding the manuscript for this book, especially after I reminded you of the unfortunate way in which I had to terminate my previous nine editors after discovering they were all on the side of the vermin hordes. "Does every vermin character have to be 100% evil?" they had queried of me. Like the vermin races could be anything but the lowest scum, created that way from birth. As I have aspired to show with the bulk of my literature, one should have no hatred for those born with lower, dirty souls, but, as the denizens of Redwall abbey have discovered again and again, one must be prepared to expel or even exterminate these vermin races should the natural evil within them ever rear its vile head.
But enough idle chatter. Let us consider two of your most easily deflected criticisms.
1. "My constant and wordy descriptions of food." - Oh come now, have you even read one of my books?
2. "My insistence on referring to all stoats as 'niggers' and all rats as 'sand niggers'." - This one can be shoved aside right off, as it was a simple editing oversight on my part. Ordinarily I replace those terms with the correct ones after they have served their purpose in exciting the necessary passion needed to describe their malevolence. I simply forgot to run the usual "search and replace" before printing. This is almost as embarrassing as the time that Mossflower was published with the vermin's castle still referred to as "Africa".
For now I must get back to my own little dibbuns (I am a grandfather now, if you did not know!), but please contact me if you have any further questions concerning the book. Thank you.
Dear Mr. Jacques,
I must say that your letter made me very alarmed and hungry. To begin, with all due respect, I question the use of your swastika envelopes. You may be a World War II Memorabilia collector, but this and your welcoming gift of an SS dagger may be misconstrued by others as being in poor taste. Granted, I was incredibly happy to be working with such a legendary name in children's fiction, but perhaps these eccentricities should stay private?
Which brings me to my next point: I have only read a few books of the Redwall canon, but I must say I was shocked and disturbed by many of the concepts contained within your currently untitled manuscript (and right now I would sincerely express my apprehension about your proposed title, Death Comes Slow to the Wicked). For example, when the mouse hero Feather Kindface and his friend Good Goodly infiltrate the lair of the weasels: we are certainly going to face challenges from librarians on this, and not just in the states. Very little do I question such large passages, but what - may I ask - is the point of two mice heroes systematically murdering thousands of innocent weasel babies with sharp rocks? Yes, the content does bother me, but what also bothers me is that this passage is 200 pages long!
Sir, maybe J.K. Rowling's works inspired you to make your newest Redwall novel as epic and sprawling as the latest Harry Potter adventure, but her books do not include graphic depictions of genocide immediately followed by lavishly-detailed feasting scenes. No one is questioning your ability to describe soup, but one can hardly enjoy these descriptions when the tortured cries of murdered vermin babies are echoing through one's mind.
Please Mr. Jacques, do not forward me any more phrenology literature.
Also, please assist me in determining what your mole characters are saying. I was stymied on page one by a line of dialogue stating: "Hurr, oi fuhhoy nurr oi guvv."
Dear Mr. Mackey,
Ah yes, the famous question of the moles. Since the beginning of my career so very many years ago (I have been at this for some time, please recall. I feel more than polite entertaining questions from a newcomer to this business, but a small tip, friend: Never question a writer's tools. I would sooner give up my David Duke "Children Are Our Future" Award Pen than my swastika envelopes. Where was I? Oh, right.), the moles have performed a special role in my work. With their friendly, unthreatening presence and difficult to parse language, they serve the same purpose as a cuddly stuffed animal that whispers propaganda to a child as he sleeps, like any grandfather might secretly give to his grandchildren (these letters are confidential correct?).
To close this particular point, I merely ask you to consider the following line of dialogue from the main mole character, Buggo: "Hurr, oi'd ar remoindin' ya ta be kiollin' burr lowur racies hurr durr".
As for the size of that particular passage, I would point out that even at the current length it constitutes a trivial fraction of the entire work. The book, as you are aware, is going to be a massive one. Anyone who, say, stopped reading my work when they were twelve and then discovered recently that I have since written eight more books in the series would be able to tell that I'm having trouble letting this series go. Allow me to choose the scope of my farewell.
Besides which I feel the passage plays an important part as the genesis of the good creature's eventual plan for victory. Without it, it would feel forced to the reader when the following passage came around:
I await your further comment.
Dear Mr. Jacques,
Before I once again bring to the surface the morality issues, let us discuss further some other qualms I have with your current manuscript.
Once again you are using the device of Martin the Warrior to propel your protagonists towards their goal. I can't say that I blame you, as these references to Redwall's history only add to the charm of your books. I, however, am alarmed with your lack of care pertaining to this section of your manuscript. Perhaps you didn't have time to think out a real mystery for your characters to solve, but why - may I ask again - did you feel it necessary to clip multiple sudoku puzzles from the newspaper and paste them into the ten pages following the proposition of a Martin the Warrior puzzle? Perhaps these clippings are just a placeholder for future text, but I can't help but think this is what you intend to be published - after all, why else would you have crudely drawn smiling mouse faces around these errantly glued scraps of paper?
Mr. Jacques, you may be trying to break down the confining walls of children's fiction with these bold experiments, but to me this just seems like the act of an author who just doesn't care anymore. Yes, critics called your last Redwall novel "daring and Pynchon-esque," but were these critics aware that this book was merely a random assembly of unrelated chapters from previous Redwall novels? I think not. In fact, my 12 year-old nephew, who recently gave up your work for more challenging authors like Dan Brown, made me aware of this fact.
Also I have found more elements many would deem inappropriate for a children's book. I am familiar with your "adjective/noun" method of naming characters, but a few of the vermin characters' names threw me off a bit. Sharptits? Stinkcunt? I am aware that these names evoke the "antagonist attitude" you are trying to create, but the folks on the Newbery Award Panel will not look kindly on such things - nor will they look kindly on the 8(!) rape scenes in the third chapter alone, many of which are justified with your personal footnotes(!).
Just a thought - if you're looking to win an award, why not write a novel about a young woman who is raped and must learn to live again? Boring stories of survival such as these are Newbery Award pay dirt! As it stands, I cannot fathom the amount of hysteria that will come of the triple penetration paragraph on page 27.
A question - if the moles are loyal friends to the kind denziens of Redwall, why are they castrated and enslaved during the war that takes place within your manuscript? Please clarify.
Dear Mr. Mackey,
There comes a time in every author-editor relationship where the half without talent starts to go too far in his criticism. Simply put, you have overstepped your boundary in questioning the basic theme of my book.
Remember, this is a triumphant end to an endless struggle. To expect such a struggle to end cleanly is pure naivety. Any child reading such a book that did not include the rape and gleefully described gore would write letters to the publisher asking where these things are. True, my previous books (including the one just published, "Dreams of an Abbey Day Surrendered: A Fugue for Two" which you so rudely maligned in your missive) did not contain such levels of violence, but I hoped the message came through clearly enough that goodbeasts must get their hands dirty in order to deal with evil. Such as I may find myself having to do with you, Mr. Mackey.
I find most interesting your discomfort with the plot of my book. That you have not begun to whine about the Mossflower creatures building a large "Friendship Camp" near the Abbey and herding all the vermin they can find into it in order to end the problem once and for all, well, I can only attribute this to your pitiful reading skills that have not yet carried you past the halfway point of my opus. If I were not eating a great wedge of hazelnut cheese on an apple-honey salad all washed down with a hearty glass of October Ale (Coors Light, in real world terms), and if my granddaughter were not practicing a song for her school talent show in the next room, I would laugh at the hash you make of your so-called "job".
Are you a Jew, Mr. Mackey? Does there, perhaps, run through your veins the occasional drop of the "lower" blood? Do you speak the tongue of civilization, or do the thick, guttural animal sounds of the African or Semitic "languages" ever escape your lips?
In closing I say simply this: I have in my closet a sword, blood stained but sharp as the notes my granddaughter is singing just now. Next to it is a special mouse mask that I only wear on certain occasions. Keep a close eye on what you write to me from now on, or do the same to your windows in the nighttime.
Dear Mr. Jacques,
It is with this letter I must regrettably end your association with T.H. Mackey and Sons. In my line of work, nothing is quite as tragic as being disappointed in a respected author; I can't say I've felt like this since the late Kingsley Amis "upper decked" my toilet at a cocktail party. Enclosed you will find the "authentik [sic] Jew skull" you previously sent me with the notebook paper authentication still attached. Postal regulations dictate that I cannot return your "home purity test" along with its various hypodermics.
In the future, Mr. Jacques, you may want to treat your editors with a little more respect - even if you deny certain historical tragedies and they do not. Many others do not have the good humor I do to not phone the authorities when they wake up to the words "FUCKING STOAT" burning on their front lawns. These same people also do not act rationally when they see their Jaguar covered in the corpses of weasels dressed in full battle armor. Please, Mr. Jacques, I insist you get help, lest the public see your unsavory side.
Please note my house is now enclosed by many expensive fences.
Dear Scotland Yard,
The acclaimed author stood before his writing desk, still panting from the wounds of a mighty fight. His bloodied sword hung loosely from his side, and his mouse mask was now limp and crumbled on the desktop. The vermin lord Mackey had been vanquished at last. The land of Mossflower and also Britain and America were free from that tyrannical scourge. But the warrior Jacques had incurred many a wound in the course of the tussle, and he staggered back to recuperate in his spring writing home.
Soon others would come, alerted by what he was writing at that moment. They would congratulate him for his brave deeds and prepare a place of resting where he could hang up his sword and live a life of peace. He took a bite of honey cake from his desk, its yellow frosting sinking damply into the fresh cake beneath it.
I wish I could describe this cake more, because it tastes really great, but I'm too weak, so here ends this hero's story.
I love food.
(Thanks DocEvil for doing most of the formatting work for me.)