Facebook, I will burn you to the ground. I will descend upon you like a horde of locusts and devour your increase and nothing will be left for the gleaners. The Angel of Death will visit your house and wipe you off the face of the Internet.
I say unto you, I will not actually destroy you, for your bloated, gassy carcass would explode in my face were I to anoint you with fire. And there would go mine eyebrows. But I will cleanse you with an holy purgative. Lo, I will cast my list of friends into the very bowels of hell. Yea will I delete their names with a scorching that will be lamented by their children, and the children of their children.
First will I delete the very young—the ones who do that thing with their lips. Anyone who does that thing with their lips will I utterly delete.
I will delete those friends who lurk in the shadows, swooping in to “like” a vicious comment when they think I am not looking. Oh, they shall be deleted into Outer Darkness.
Friends who have passed through the veil since our friending, your numbers are four. And I will keep you close to my bosom, and I will delete you not.
But the person with 3,376 friends and counting? You will suffer a terrible deletion. And you whose posts proclaim your wealth and worldliness to the point where I just can’t even? Thou art gone, girl.
And verily I will delete the people who I know for a fact dislike me. And I will yet delete the friends I friended even though I disliked them with a great and mighty disliking, for I never said that I did not, also, suck.
And the accounts that have been deactivated like so many whited sepulchers (26 in total)? Wherefore art thou still on my list? Get thee the hell behind me.
The friend whose mother told me I was fat when I was a teenager? You are deleted by association (and seriously, who does that?).
Friends who message me admonitions to repent and return to the straight and narrow, to you it is given to be deleted. Friends who only want me in their downline shall feel the weight of my defriending so, so, so hard.
Did I reach out to you, a stranger in my father’s house, when I was in the throes of going Paleo? Ciao, baby. And did we inadvertently befriend each other because our names are so commonplace? That was no happy coincidence. Bye bye!
And did you secretly unfollow me when I murmured the word “shit” without an asterisk? Behold, you are defriended.
And when I have pronounced my judgments upon you, I will make a new and everlasting covenant with the righteous. That is, I’ll send you another friend request. Please say yes. We were, after all, in the same homeroom.
Two pale, horrid squashes were left by my door
Crying “we’re few! but we’re going to be more!”
An unspoken, tacit, unneighborly threat:
If I leave my house, these two will beget
A surfeit of squashes, tinged with the pallor
Of death and decay, and hour after hour
More death shall be birthed upon prickly vine
And hundreds of stillborn plants shall be mine
Should I, in an incautious moment be caught
Off guard, or asleep, or somewhere that’s not
At home, by my door, with my shotgun in hand—
No more squashes! I hate them. You understand.
It’s demoralizing to have one’s rubbish examined by one’s neighbor and be found wanting, is it not? Such was the case yesterday, when the woman from the house on the corner knocked on my door a few minutes after I’d arranged our garbage on the curb at the end of my driveway.
“So sorry to bother you,” she says, “but I was wondering if my husband could take the tricycle you’ve left by your bin to Goodwill. Because then it could be enjoyed by another child?”
“Do you know,” I say, “I don’t think it could, actually. It’s broken.”
“Perhaps it could be fixed,” she suggests (patiently). She is from Europe. She is unaware that I can read her mind, a fact which gives me no pleasure and certainly no advantage.
‘I wish it could,” I reply. “We got it from the neighbors next door. Their two daughters outgrew it. Our daughters have ridden it pretty hard. I’m sure it’s beyond repair.” My girls thrashed the hell out of that trike. Still, I find myself justifying my garbage to this person.
“I wonder,” she counters, “if a disadvantaged child might still enjoy it.”
“Enjoy sitting on it, you mean?” I assume an expression of genuine contemplation. Yes, I can picture it. A dirt-encrusted girl with dubious hair (who is the spiting image of my four year-old) sits on the broken tricycle. “Why don’t the pedals move forward, Mommy?” she asks. “Because we’re poor, sweetie. We can only have broken things. Try to understand.”
My neighbor and I have reached a quick impasse. Perhaps she can read my mind, too. I hope not.
I don’t know the punchline to that joke because it’s highly inappropriate. But is it as inappropriate as the text my little sister just sent me? Evidently, the state of New York now provides transcripts of the conversations people enjoy with the officers awarding their speeding tickets. HOW IS THIS A GOOD THING? I guess I’ll ask George Orwell—maybe he can tell me. In the meantime, I can hear Margaret’s flat, deadpan voice telling the cop that she “imagines” her ticket is for speeding, and not for inviting him to sit on a stick (her expression, not mine).
Well. I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of speeding tickets, and how grateful I am that there’s no extant record of me flirting my way out of yet another point on my license. As it is, there’s quite enough fodder to sink my future ill-advised and catastrophic run for Congress without written evidence of me telling a police man how manly he looks in his uniform. (That used to work pretty nicely, by the way. Margaret, you should try it sometime.)
a season’s fruit, two seasons, three—
large solace from a little tree;
but now the grief comes to a head,
my tree is gone, my tree is dead.
I thought I’d bust out this fancy pedometer today. Sister Erin sent it to me I don’t know how long ago, and I stuck it in the shoebox labeled “sports” in my closet. That’s where I keep quidditch, golfing, and cricket (a.k.a. Heinous Things Invented by British Satan). Spent this past year writing a book and gaining 30 pounds. Yeah, 30. T-H-I-R-T-Y. I’m sure the two are unrelated. Anyway, who cares. So this morning I remembered this pedometer.
At some point circa 1998 I was in the middle of a routine check-up (getting, not giving) and I suggested that walking was a viable form of exercise. My doctor stopped criticizing her mother long enough to snort like a brachycephalic. She was like, “Walking? Walking??? Don’t make me laugh. There are 80 year olds dragging their oxygen tanks up and down the hallways of every hospital in America. They’re taking little breaks from chemo so they can get their walking in. That’s not exercise. A dead person can do that.” And I was like, “WOW, you really don’t like walking, do you?” That lady scared the h*ll out of me, actually.
Exhibit A: Unretouched photograph of the snake that was just inches away from my exposed and quite succulent ankle, as well as its identical twin (made out of a stick).
I hate to be a whiner about this* but it’s my opinion that the possibility of encountering live snakes whilst accompanying a class of third-graders on their field trip should be FULLY disclosed in advance. Although this would have the effect of reducing the pool of parents willing to chaperone their child’s class from “almost none” to “exactly zero,” it would still be more sporting. You might argue that when I volunteered to go to a place called “Birds of Prey,” I relinquished certain rights. I dispute that, and will see you in court, sir.
First of all, I’d like to start with an apology for not being able to offer individual feedbackas a response to your query. I really wish I could offer each person who takes the time and the emotional energy to send me a query a personalized response, but if I did, I wouldn’t have the time to properly represent my current clients. As you’ve probably guessed by this point, we’ve determined that, unfortunately, we don’t believe Folio is the right agency to represent your work right now. If you queried about a nonfiction project, the most likely reason we decided not to take it on was because as an author, your platform isn’t big enough yet. (If you’d like to learn more about platform, why it’s so important, and what you can do to build yours, the best place to start is to watch the video on Folio’s website here: http://foliolit.com/
nytimesbestseller/) Once you’ve watched that, click on the link below the video for more free training on platform building from Folio client Brendon Burchard. If you queried about a novel, then the most likely reason we’ve decided to pass is that you didn’t tell us enough about what the book is actually ABOUT. (That’s probably why we pass on 20% of fiction queries.) For the other 80%, though, the old cliche holds true– it’s not you, it’s us. The decision to represent fiction is highly subjective, and for whatever reason, the subject about which you’re writing just didn’t inspire that aha! moment an agent needs to take on a novel. Given market trends, we’ve had to become extraordinarily selective with first fiction. As either a novelist or a nonfiction author, though, if you’re getting form letter rejects from most or all of the agents you’re querying (or if they’re just not responding at all) there’s actually some good news: chances are the problem is with your query letter itself, and not the underlying book. For some tips on how to improve your query letter, click here: http://foliolit.com/ submissions/basic-information-Again, though, I’d like to thank you so much for the opportunity to consider representing your book. Stories can change the world, and every one of us has an important one to tell. I wish you all the best in finding the right home for your story. on-query-letters/
See you on the bestseller list,
P.S. If you’ve received a duplicate of this email, I apologize. Our query system is still relatively new, and we’re still working out all of the kinks.
this is utterly lame. it’s so lame it’s almost sweet–as if this agent were entreating me to simultaneously reject him on the grounds of his utter lameness. which I have done, per his explicit invitation.