Friday, December 9, 2005
In March I became a published author, and I quickly realized how important self-presentation is to literary success. This is the first in a series of letters in which I “sell myself” to various prize committees, billionaires, and television executives.
My Pulitzer Prize Application
I recently became perhaps the first person to include a case of beer with his/her Pulitzer Prize application. The following is my application letter, an update on the beer drop-off, and still shots from a hidden-camera video of the delivery.
October 9, 2005
Dear Pulitzer Prize Chairman Lee C. Bollinger:
I am a winner. I’ve always been a winner, and if I correctly understand a fortune cookie I got about a week ago (six days), I always will be. I am walking hand-in-hand, foot-in-foot with my ravishing, highly intelligent wife, Destiny, toward the first year of my ’05/’06/’07 Pulitzer Prize threepeat. Though I am more than qualified to win a Pulitzer this and the next two years, a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer will be arriving shortly to aid you and your fellow board members in the decision.
According to your guidelines, I am an ideal candidate for the Pulitzer Prize. I am an American. A copy of my Social Security card is enclosed. Please do not use it to establish credit and purchase a cellphone plan. Also, enclosed is my distinguished book, A Portrait of Yo Mama as a Young Man (Crown Publishing, 2005). My book is easily distinguished from other books because it is the only book published this year that is a ramshackle unauthorized biography of your mother.
Now, about the money. I am writing you unbeknownst to my coauthor, so I would request that all of the $10,000 prize be given to me. I would like my money as soon as possible (cash is fine), so that I can pay off my $12,000 credit-card debt. Speaking of which, if possible, could I get $12,000 and one of the other category winners get $8,000? Barring that, can I borrow $2,000? Can you advance me any of the loan (reply envelope enclosed)? I could also get a friend to pick up the loan money, if that would be more convenient for you. It will be the same guy who dropped off the beer.
You may have noticed some apparent shortcomings with my application materials. I only had one copy of the book available instead of the four requested in your guidelines. I trust the imported (in other countries) beer you will soon be enjoying will more than make up for this shortage of books. And since I did not include the $50 application fee, I hereby allow you to deduct that amount from my prize winnings. Also, I understand that I am about four months late for the Pulitzer deadline. I apologize for that, and please note that I have attention-deficit disorder. Are there exemptions for those with A.D.D., or is your organization insensitive to the intellectual diversities of our society? Further, I am white. Are there any racial barriers preventing a white person (man) from winning the Pulitzer Prize? I’ve heard there are. Would it help to know that I’m generally regarded as the Maya Angelou of jackassy white-boy comedy?
One final note: It just occurred to me that I might not win this particular prize—in which case, you should know that I am not just good at putting words together. I am also good at the physical act of writing. Do you have a penmanship award? Is there a separate application for it? Do I need to send more beer, or can you and the board split yours with the penmanship people? For simplicity’s sake, I will assume that there is no separate application and that you can split the beer.
Please let me know about the loan and which one of the prizes I have won.
Update: The beer drop-off guys, Mike Delevante (beer carrier) and Pete Scordilis (hidden-camera operator), arrived at the Pulitzer Committee’s building around lunchtime on October 28. There was no one at the guard desk, so they got on the elevator and went up to the office, where the card-access doors were unlocked and no one was inside. There they left the case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, with a note on top stating:
To: Lee C. Bollinger
From: Kent Roberts
Re: Pulitzer Prize
Beers enclosed: 30.
I hope Mr. Bollinger enjoyed the beer, and I expect to hear from him shortly. (See photo spread.)