Monday, April 11, 2011

Bea Arthur: A Novel, Audio Redux

This monologue first ran in 2006. Max Cantor recently sent me his audio reading of it, which I simply had to share. Since most current readers haven't seen Bea Arthur: A Novel, I'm presenting both the original text and Max's reading today.

To listen to Max Cantor's reading of "Bea Arthur: A Novel" either click the triangle on the left to begin streaming audio or click this text to download the MP3.

Don't you want to slap authors who add " : A Novel" after their titles?

Hearts: A Novel.

Orchard: A Novel.

Who are you helping here? The guy who restocks the shelves? It's sitting next to six hundred other novels. It's not my fault your horribly unoriginal cover doesn't convey what kind of book it is (it's probably a picture of a building, a road, an empty beach or a photo of you, isn't it?). It's a book in the Fiction section! Picking the thing up and flipping through it, which I'll have to do anyway if I'm going to buy it, will tell me if it's an anthology or a picaresque.

If you shaped the book, say, like the Himalayas, disguising the pages as 1,000 meter-tall sheets of ice and rock, then, then I might need you to label it " : A Novel." I'd be quite surprised. I'd probably buy two, for stocking stuffers. But not your 250-page paperback of My Doves: A Novel in the middle of the Fiction section.

It doesn't even say, "Checkpoint: A Good Novel," or, "Company: A Novel That Has Some Shortcomings, But There's a Really Clever Ending." Even culinary anti-artists like candy companies put more on their bags than, "Oreos: A Cookie." Given, they do have a more compelling product than most literary authors, but still. It's the principle of the thing, and novels are about the principle of the thing. How am I supposed to trust you with the English language for hundreds of pages when you're wasting words right on the cover? Strunk and White frown, madame.

You know what I'd like to do someday? Drive past one of those capital offenders' houses and huck a stone with a note on it through her window. The note would read " : A Rock. "


  1. Scathing & hilarious peeve purge John! Great reading too!

  2. I've found myself perturbed enough by that particular addition to wonder why it's there, but I'll back your rant 100%. I'll bet most of those covers would be more accurate if they instead wrote, "a somewhat chronologically-ordered series of otherwise random scenes."

    Are they, perhaps, trying to reassure people who are allergic to anthos?

    Verification word: beept — which is probably the noise I'll hear in my head next time I see ": A Novel" on a book cover. :-P

  3. I needed that smile. "Oreos: A Cookie" I think I'll be repeating that line for the next week! Thanks for the laugh. Well done.

  4. Max Cantor: a reader.
    John Wiswell: a guy.
    Please insert "good" and/or "funny" as you see fit.

  5. Thanks for stopping by and reading, or listening. Max's fondness for this was so strong that when he recorded a version, I had to post it. I presumed most current readers hadn't seen Bea Arthur: A Novel before.

    Mr. FAR, you had found yourself perturbed enough? Or hadn't?


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