After twenty-two years of hard labor, my 1,468-page experimental novel, Dan Buys a Sofa on the Installment Plan, has received a total of one review — a 300 word blurb written by Cletus Garfield in the Penny Saver, who declared “quite possibly the worst book to take a crap to.” I have since learned that a San Francisco writer may have ghosted this review, but thankfully another San Francisco writer — someone referred to as a “blogger,” who I presume is some kind of German dancer — has permitted me the space to express my grief, with the proviso that my byline includes the nickname “Sore,” which he tells me is Hungarian for “sublime.”
It’s petty and unreasonable for authors to dispute this kind of reception. But since Michael Laser has demonstrated that there is a market for sour grapes, I, Michael Loser, must also join the chorus. Besides, expending energies to whine is better than paying some quack three hundred dollars an hour and, if I play my cards right, I might just get Salon to buy this piece too.
I had high hopes that readers would see my clear homage to Celine, beginning with the way I used “installment plan” in the title and consistently referred to “installment plan” in my work. Consider this excerpt from Page 432:
Dan installed himself on the installed sofa and picked up his guitar, which he had also purchased on the installment plan. He strummed D minor and, five minutes later, he had penned a ballad: “Installment plan / I’m living on the installment plan / I’m breathing on the installment plan / Have you got an installment plan too?” Tunes came easily for Dan. He had a five-subject notebook filled with fresh ballads and had often bartered his ballads away for other home furnishings. A few burly furniture store owners had agreed to an installment plan deal, in which Dan would offer his ballads piecemeal for tables, armoires and chiffoniers — a grandstanding installment plan that would include installation. Could they not see his latent talent? Would he ever compose a masterpiece? Or was he leading up to it with these songs, all of them written on the installment plan?
If Mr. Garfield could not see the clear metaphors and imagery here about how we are all, in some sense, living on the “installment plan,” if he can’t supplicate upon my genius and if readers, in turn, cannot see the true valor of my words, then I may just have to slice my wrists.
Then again, if Salon accepts this piece (and given its history, I am certain they will), then I may just find life worth living after all. I might even be a Great American Writer. After all, writing is all about the roses they throw you at the dais.
I am now working on a second novel called The End of Dan’s Sofa, which was inspired by the great A.M. Homes book and deals with a sofa cruelly ejected from Dan’s apartment, taking up residence in a jail cell, where the sofa strikes up a correspondence with an abandoned Windsor chair.
If the reading public cannot understand the human condition through Installment Plan, then perhaps exploring the consciousness of furniture is the next best thing.
For the moment, I just want an intelligent review. I just want a sale. I just want a hug.
Love me. I’m fragile.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.