Most of my email comes from friends or relatives saying hi let's get together. Of the email that comes from strangers, probably half is about my winning a lottery in Spain, or marrying a beautiful East European, or otherwise improving my financial or sexual life. (My favorites are the ones who ask if I haven't always wanted a magnificent bust. Oh yes, I want to say. And a beehive hairdo to go with it.) The remaining half of my stranger email has to do in some way with my professional life. Editors and publishers, conference organizers, teachers, students, media types. Much of this is positive (sixth grade students who sign themselves, Your biggest fan! Parent council members who beg me to come to their school). Some of it is disappointing (reviewers who comment on Scrimger's obscure plot line or clunky dialogue). And then there's the fragment of email I got the other day. Here it is in its entirety.
Scrimger yore book is disgusting. Why don't you
That's it. Weird, eh? I stared at the message in surprise. Which turned to dismay real fast. Then to puzzlement.
By now some time has passed. The surprise is going and the dismay is pretty much gone. It's no fun to be reviled, but I can certainly accept the fact that not everyone likes me. The man with no enemies is a coward, says the proverb (I guess because he is too frightened of offending people to put forth an original thought). So I am okay with the critique -- but I am still puzzled. Why don't you ... what? What does my anonymous critic want me to do?
Dear sir or madam, or kid. If you are reading this, please take a moment and finish your thought. I can't decide how much weight to give your opinion until I know more about it. I'm sorry that you find my work disgusting. If you tell me what your issue is, maybe my next book will be better.
So far, today's email seems normal. A couple of friends saying hi. A reader commenting on an earlier blog entry. A student submitting a chapter for review. And an offer to Wow her in the bedroom with your magnificent specimen.
I still think a beehive hairdo would be more effective.