The former Ogre-in-Chief. (Photo by Seth Wenig/Associated Press.)
A successful novelist and her agent meet for lunch, and the author mentions an idea she has for the main character in her next book.
“Get this,” says the novelist. “The protagonist is a former President of the United States who illegally brings sensitive White House documents to his palatial resort home in Florida, where the papers could be eaten by retired crocodiles in nearby condos.”
“He took those important papers with him after leaving office? Ridiculous plot device,” replies the agent. “No ex-POTUS would ever do that. Suspension of belief is one thing, but that’s more bonkers than Yonkers.”
“Where some of those crocodiles retired from. How about if I make the novel science fiction? After all, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury wrote Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
“That’s what decent-minded Floridians said when Donald Trump headed to their state in 2020,” recalls the agent. “Still, I’m not convinced your protagonist is credible.”
“Also,” the author pushes on, “my protagonist disputes the results of the presidential election he clearly lost by a wide margin, and most members of his political party disgustingly support that brazen undemocratic nonsense.”
“Readers will laugh in your face at something that implausible. And many won’t be wearing COVID-prevention masks…”
“How about if I make the novel a fantasy? You know, like The Lord of the Rings, only the rings are very tiny because the protagonist has very tiny hands.”
“Hmm…tell me more.”
“The ex-POTUS aligns himself with an evil Sauron-like figure named Putt-in, who shares the former President’s penchant for golf instead of work — though Putt-in does find the time to invade a neighboring golf course.”
“I just can’t accept the idea of a former U.S. president vile enough to ride AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ so quickly there’d be no time for Satan to prepare a welcoming brunch of toasted bagels. VERY toasted bagels.”
“Maybe YOU should write a novel,” replies the author. “Anyway, my proposed protagonist is also a misogynistic brute guilty of multiple instances of sexual misconduct yet always avoids criminal prosecution and always avoids losing support from most members of his political party. He’s as Teflon as the pots and pans he never cooks with because he never cooks.”
“What’s gotten into you?” asks the agent. “Your previous characters were all so three-dimensional. Even The Fifth Dimension music group that made a cameo in one of your novels shed two dimensions to fit in.”
“I think I have enough ‘cred’ with my readers to pull off this ex-POTUS character — who’s also virulently racist and anti-LGBTQ, insults people with disabilities, lies constantly, doesn’t read books, is cheap and money-grasping despite being an alleged billionaire, etc.”
“Are you prepared to risk your career like Liz Cheney did?”
“You remind me that my protagonist also successfully urged his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol building to try to get his reelection loss overturned — yet is still nowhere near being jailed for his treasonously fake ‘Stop the Steal’ claims.”
“Is there anything I can do to convince you to ‘Stop the Spiel’ about this novel and not write it?”
“I feel I must write it, even though a protagonist that dishonorable could never exist in real life.”
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com every Thursday. The latest piece — about a local Starbucks unionizing and future plans for my town’s problematic Municipal Building — is here.