Life Changingly Awesome Query Letter Part 6: The New York Times Book Review

Dear Mr. Sam Tanenhaus,

In my opinion, there are three things that every man should do before he dies: 1. Ride a jet ski  2. Write a harshly worded letter to an online retailer and 3. Read The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt by John Bellairs. As a frail, precocious, but obviously gifted youth, I read said book, the sequel to Bellair’s first Johnny Dixon mystery The Curse of the Blue Figurine, and was enraptured by the excitement, enthralled by the intrigue, and en fuego-ed by chapter ending lines like this: “Johnny could make out what the woman was saying. And the words made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.” You’re probably asking yourself right now: What were those words?!? Well, Bellairs made you wait till the following chapter to find out. And sometimes, depending on whether or not you’d had a nap after your snack, that could be the next day.

But despite producing Mach 3 Turbo sharp suspense like that in 15 young adult books, Bellairs, according to a fairly accurate sounding Wikipedia entry, died in relative obscurity in Haverhill, MA, where, according to its tourism website picture gallery, the most interesting thing to do seems to involve a statue of a woman captured by Native Americans in 1697. And perhaps more importantly, Bellairs work was never featured in the Times Book Review. “Until Sam Tanenhaus accepted an idea that would change his life forever. In a good way. From Kevin Alexander.”

That idea, Samuel, is to write a 2000 word essay celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first publication of The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt. Although the essay will feature a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits about Bellairs and the book I mentioned before, especially why the illustration on the front of said book portrays the main character Johnny Dixon without a mouth and wearing embarrassingly tight, tapered blue pants, it will mainly re-focus on my childhood, and my painful but minor battle with slight iron deficiency. I can also do illustrations, for a nominal fee.

Now Sammy, I a fool am not. I understand that the literary rigors of writing for the Times Sunday Review are, um, rigorous. You, the Internet 2.0 has led me to believe, even had to write a book called Literature Unbound, and this while you were in your 20s!  Although sadly my father didn’t donate enough money to his alma mater Dartmouth to get me wait-listed at an Ivy League school, I too am cultured. I’ve heard of or asked Yahoo!Answers about nearly every classic American author, I’ve seen the movie version of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, and I own cuff links and an English-French dictionary. But I’m much more than that. Because you don’t have to be a Michael Crichton scholar or know the French word for grapefruit (pamplemousse!) to understand the American literary landscape, especially when most of what you’re planning on turning in involves personal anecdotes.  

In the movie Rounders, Matt Damon says something to the effect that–during a game of poker– you must put a man to a decision for all of his chips. Well, Samson, all of my chips are on the proverbial table. You’ve heard my opening statement, you know my argument, you’ve seen the evidence. It’s time you found me guilty of an invincible idea, and sentenced me to 2000 words, preferably at $2 a pop. My contact info will follow. And if you need to get in touch quickly, just friend me on Facebook, then write your message on my wall.

Part Time(s),
Lover

Stevie Wonder

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One thought on “Life Changingly Awesome Query Letter Part 6: The New York Times Book Review

  1. Rachel

    Thank you for the link to "Part-Time Lover". Recently I rediscovered another 80’s video classic, "Hello" by Lionel Ritchie. He’s not just Nicole Ritchie’s dad, you know.

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