Friday, June 12, 2009
John Irving
John Irving is the author of The Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and The Nanny Diaries.

he age of analog television in the United States will soon be over. And I was chosen to clearly explain the digital transition to the country to eliminate potential confusion. Personally, I don’t watch television; I find it much too … too American and not enough Viennese.

I remember having drinks with John Updike and Norman Mailer at the Stanhope Hotel. The two late literary treasures convinced me that I was the novelist that needed to answer this calling. I thought to myself (out loud, in a short essay published in The New Yorker), they’re right. Who better to clarify the DTV transition than the nation’s best novelist of the modern era? Definitely better than Tom Wolfe. Hack.

Initially, there were problems; I butted heads with others on the commission after they rejected my suggestion to call it D;T;V. Fuck, do I love semicolons. But even people who don’t understand the beauty of punctuation—stupid as they are—couldn’t deter me from helping the masses understand what it will take to sit in front of the crystal clear digital blue glow of a television.

The story of the transition should be set forth in a Dickensian way; as a tale that begins with a PARENTLESS SET OF RABBIT EARS IN NEW ENGLAND.

Now, you’re wondering what the transition will involve; what you should expect. Below I make everything clear and address any potential questions; I spell everything out so that you’re ready when DTV launches.

I rightfully thought the story of the transition should be set forth in a Dickensian way; as a tale that begins with a parentless set of rabbit ears in New England. There, the set of rabbit ears attends a prestigious prep school, despite its orphan status. The transition is conveyed in parallel coming-of-age narratives. One is of a young set of rabbit ears that is captain of the elite school’s wrestling team and carries on a torrid affair with an older woman who may or may not have hairy armpits. The hair symbolizes growth; the armpit represents the sweaty, sordid world in which we must grow. This set of rabbit ears eventually becomes a cross-dresser, so the other narrative is of a transvestite transitioning into what it truly wants to become, hence the “TV.”

The set of rabbit ears is an amputee; IT IS NOW A RABBIT EAR.

Soon after prep school, the now-transgendered set of rabbit ears travels to Austria, where it keeps company with prostitutes and witnesses a tragic death of a loved one; a young person who is very cute and loveable—or maybe it’s a parent. Anyway there is a death, and it is a sudden one.

Living in a hotel in Salzburg, the set of rabbit ears takes time to heal; using wrestling as a therapeutic technique—a technique the set invents and that is loosely based on Wolpe’s systematic desensitization. At this time, the set of rabbit ears is also recovering from an accident; a bizarre car accident that caused the loss of one nostril and one eye and severed his penis down the middle lengthwise. It also loses an antenna.

The set of rabbit ears is an amputee; it is now a rabbit ear. So in mourning it cuts out its tongue; to make a statement of some sort.

Before killing himself, THE TALKING BEAR MAULS TOM WOLFE TO DEATH leaving the ersatz novelist’s white suit bloodied and tattered.

After some more wrestling, an abortion or two and a lot of fucking semicolons, the amputated rabbit ear returns to the United States to write a novel. The novel contains a novel within a novel within a children’s book within a supermarket circular, within a novel, and features a romance between a young man and an older woman. In the novel within the novel part, a set of rabbit ears is raped; but then exacts revenge on the rapist with the help of a talking bear who later commits suicide because even though he is close—perhaps inappropriately close—to his mother, he never meets his father; that void is never filled and the pain becomes too much. Before killing himself, the talking bear mauls Tom Wolfe to death leaving the ersatz novelist’s white suit bloodied and tattered. In a book signing, the set of rabbit ears—or is it the amputated rabbit ear? I’m losing track—gets angry when people suggest the story is autobiographical.

Throughout all of this, the set of rabbit ears constantly rants about the Vietnam War even though it was several decades ago. In protest, the set of rabbit ears moves to Canada; which makes it possible for the DTV transition to take place.

So that should make everything crystal clear, like the digital picture imminently gracing your screens.

Now let’s go wrestle some amputee hookers.

Frank Ferri is a copywriter who thinks he’s funny. Visit him at

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