My literary career is young but it’s never too early to begin filling the gas tank of posterity . For the benefit of scholars and fans alike, I will use this space on The Outlet, on a semi-regular basis, to release a selection of my correspondence and other papers. Enjoy. (Universities interested in acquiring the complete Judson Merrill archive should contact me through my web site.)
Dear Mr. Roth,
I am writing to ask you to read and blurb my new novel, Children of Parents. The book is the stirring story of a brother and sister called home by their mother’s funeral, only to discover she has been living a double life. For years, when they thought she was leaving the house every morning to teach Life Science at the local middle school, she was, in fact, teaching Social Studies. Lost and confused, daughter and son go on a trip through their mother’s curriculum, trying to understand why she chose this bizarre path. Interwoven with this moving narrative are long sections of Social Studies textbooks, which reflect and augment the book’s devastating insights. Children of Parents delivers an emotional one-two punch that knocks loose our assumptions about family and trust.
I’ve attached a copy of the book. Please read it and write a pithy sentence or two praising it. Or if you’d like to simply re-use some of the above description, that’d be fine, too.
I was just perusing your bibliography and thought, given how prolific you are, that you must be in constant need of things to write about. Have you considered blurbing other people’s work? As a courtesy, I’m attaching my new novel in case you want to give it a try. Please send me the six or seven best things you can think to say about the book.
I noticed that I’ve never seen a new novel blurbed by you. Is that because you’ve never been asked? Allow me to be the first! Please find attached my new breathtaking and magisterial novel Children of Parents. Blurb on and good luck with this exciting new medium.
Thanks for getting back to me. And sorry for the confusion. I don’t know your agent or editor. I paid a guy at the Frankfurt Book Fair twenty bucks for your email address. But, more importantly, I genuinely believe you’ll connect with the book. Enjoy!
PS- I’m actually still in the process of deciding which publisher to go with. You know how it is. Do you have any experience with PublishBook.com? I got a pretty compelling postcard from them the other day. Or, if you’re happy with your publisher, maybe you could introduce us?
Excuse this unsolicited letter but I’m in a bind and am hoping you can help me out. My new novel is about to go to press and, due to a series of untimely mishaps, I’m running low on marketing material. Most disappointingly, Salinger had agreed to blurb the book just days before he died. But then he died. I like to think he might have blurbed, “Merrill uses imagery the way an Eskimo uses a harpoon and there are times when you cannot look away from his prose, no matter how much you have to do around the house. It was a good book.” Maybe that could be your blurb instead? I know it’d be an overwhelming honor, but I think it’s what Jerry would have wanted.
Dear Ms. Morrison,
I recently saw that you blurbed Julia Leigh’s Disquiet. If it’s alright with you, I’m going to tweak the names and pronouns and use the same blurb for my forthcoming book, Children of Parents. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume that’s fine.
Thanks for the blurb. I’m not sure if you noticed but in addition to saying great things about the book you also imply some fairly horrible things about our marriage and my soul. It sort of puts me in awkward spot but, given the alternatives, I guess I have to use it. Sad. See you tonight!
I understand but I’m certainly disappointed. If you were able to find the time to read the book you’d very much enjoy it. But, since you’re apparently so busy, maybe you could just blurb this email thread instead? Something like, “Merrill’s clear and lucid prose grabs your attention and demands that you read his book.”
Long time no see. I was chatting with my wife the other day about people who always had a kind word for everybody and your name was mentioned. I’d love to get a cup of coffee sometime and catch up. Maybe Tuesday? I’m dying to hear about work, get the update on the kids, and read you my new novel. Then write down your extemporaneous thoughts and use them as marketing fodder. Be in touch!
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The full Judson Merrill archives can be found here.
–Judson Merrill lives and writes in Brooklyn. Some of his work, including his e-novella The Pool, can be found at judsonmerrill.com.