From: Acquisitions Editor, Mammon Publishing
To: Marketing Department
Wicked hit 1,800 shows this week. Novel has been in Top 50 Best Selling Paperbacks since show opened in 2003. Keeping that in mind, wanted to run some possibilities by you.
Title: The Odd Fish
A retelling of Jaws, from the point of view of the shark.
Book opens with the narrator learning of his mother’s death, and feeling strangely unaffected by the news. Soon after, he finds that the act of hunting prey evokes in him physical revulsion (headaches, nausea, etc). Ridiculed for this weakness (and also for his lack of expressed grief at his mother’s funeral, where he disdained to shed a single tear), he begins a lonely existence along the ocean floor, eating only those whom, after long discourse, he finds to be exceptional philistines. Narrator suspects his dissatisfaction arises from idealism; he rejects the sensible impressions of existence as mere shadows of the true form (i.e., he himself may be an instance of shark, but there exists only one true Shark, a concept pure and insensible—that he is, in short, a Platonist shark).
Story is complicated by appearance of the principal villain, a killer whale who finds such notions beneath his contempt. Whale argues that ideals are but odious lies, and existence is simply absurd. Uneasy pas de deux develops between the two, alternating between admiration, brinksmanship, and a not-so-subtle sexual fascination. (as Carcharodons and Orca go, each is an Adonis of the species)
Final act begins with the shark’s discovery of humans. Captivated by their society, he moves into Atlantic coastal waters for observation. This proves to be his undoing, as he is followed by his old friend the Orca, who proceeds on a killing spree—which is of course blamed on the protagonist. Hunted unjustly by an insane New England fisherman and an Ahabian chief of police, the shark finally decides existence is quite absurd. He willingly swallows a pressurized air tank and allows his head to be blown off; wishing only that there could have been “a large crowd” to witness his death, to “greet him with cries of hate.”
Nihilistic epilogue wraps up killer whale’s story; discovered by a Warner Bros. talent scout, he stars in a fawning movie where, with the aid of a young boy, he escapes captivity in a marina.
Title: Voldemort, or He Whose Name is Quite Acceptable to Utter
A cautionary fable about the power of agitprop.
Revelations abound. Regarding Voldemort himself—that, at the time of Harry’s entrance into Hogwarts, there was very little of fear or awe attached to the name. In fact, the historical figure of Voldemort had attained by then a somewhat comical character, as an incompetent villain often done in by his own buffoonery. It was not uncommon to hear the name used self-deprecatingly—“I really Voldemorted that physics test,” or, upon witnessing someone perform a task clumsily, or make an ass of themselves, “Nice one, Voldemort.” The Dark Lord is portrayed as being perfectly content with his banishment, and resists attempts at re-summoning by pretending to be asleep, or deliberately misunderstanding questions.
Depiction of Harry is somewhat ambiguous—at best he comes off as a misguided ideologue, at worst an opportunistic fascist. Whatever Harry’s basic motives, he does exhibit a ruthless drive to power, using the resurrected spectre of the Nameless One to seize control of Hogwarts by fiat. Book also chronicles Potter’s obsession with the idea—completely unfounded—that Voldemort had attempted to murder his father. Potter, like many ideological crusaders, exhibits a strong desire to rewrite his own origins. In this case he insists on his heritage as the progeny of two famous, martyred wizards, although there is strong evidence to show that at least one of his parents was a Pasadena real-estate investor.
Much of this tempts the reader into identifying Potter with certain contemporary figures. Author actually goes much further: according to novel Potter is also, by turns, a recreational cocaine user and a frequent mangler of the language. (Although to be fair, his missteps in this last regard—he refers to his most trusted mentor by “Dumbledong” and “Dumbledouche”—appear to be more juvenile insult than pure idocy. However, the continuous stream of sly abuse Potter aims towards such an eminent figure presents the sketch of a latent, but raving, homophobe.) Certainly we could tone this down. Really depends on the audience.
Title: Paradise Was a Bunch of Bullsh-t.
God and Lucifer—once best friends, now avoiding each other at staff meetings.
Scathing account of life working under an undoubtedly brilliant but unforgiving perfectionist, from the pen of the Prince of Darkness himself—the backhanded compliments, the seemingly innocuous comments which disguised utter contempt. While Satan does not go quite so far as to blame God for their falling-out, he does object to being the lone scapegoat—“ It does take two to tango, as they say, and in this case both of us may have regrets: perhaps God could have been a bit more accepting, and perhaps I shouldn’t have tried to kill Him and take over…in retrospect, I‘m glad I didn’t succeed. I would’ve been forced to give this rather embarrassing answer to hopeful billions, regarding the Ultimate Question: ‘Oh yes, there was a God, but I, um, killed him. Please don’t judge me by that, though.’”
So, who says we’re out of ideas? Seems to me we have a bunch of old checks just lying around, waiting to get cashed! Tell me what you think. 🙂