Sunday, March 16, 2003
Dear New York Times Book Review

The Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

March 16, 2003

Dear N.Y. Times Book Review,

What gives? Another week passes and still you ignore my amazing novel, Clams Casino. Look, I can sort of kind of halfway almost understand when I’m glossed over for Tom Clancy’s newest potboiler, Operation: Fandango or whatever it’s called. And if Sue Grafton spits out her latest, P is for Poppycock—fine, I understand. Hell, even when I’m passed up for a kids’ book like Harry Potter and the Golden Shower, I don’t complain.

But jeez, N.Y.T.B.R., look at the crap that’s been selected over me this week! Twenty books nobody ever read written by authors nobody ever heard of! I mean, seriously, “ZZ Packer”? I think you’re making this stuff up! “Ruth Ozeki”? This phoney hooey does not even sound remotely plausible. For shame, N.Y.T.B.R. Where’s your journalistic integrity, I ask? What are you, the N.Y. Post Book Review? It sure is lookin’ that way, my friends.

So, before you start making stuff up for next week’s exercise in hogwash—“T. Congressman Boyle”? It’s like you’re not even trying!—I ask you to take another look at my bloody brilliant novel, “Clams Casino.” You’ll quickly realize the horrendous oversight you’ve made, and, I trust, you’ll choose to rectify this gross negligence immediately. If you like, you can give me a cover illustration: some cheeky caricature that reveals me to be ironically distinguished, humble, manly, and yet delightfully good-humored. This cover should be in muted half-tones, because Joshua Abraham is not about bright colors. You’ll understand when you read my novel, which is dark, very dark. In my review, you may compare the themes of innocence and loss in my past books (also, conveniently, overlooked by you guys), Mohandas, and The Jive Man Whistles. See if you can get Michiko Kakutani to write my review. I like saying that name.

Good day.

Josh Abraham

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l’Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevsky. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham’s fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.

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