With the stunning WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of confidential or secret State Department cables, the website’s detractors have argued that America’s global bargaining position is immeasurably weakened, and that our diplomatic allies are imperiled by the sometimes damaging and damning revelations of behind-the-scenes decision-making.

At the same time, researchers at The Nervous Breakdown have discovered a treasure trove of information that will force a complete reassessment of the postwar literary climate—and perhaps forever change our notions of authorship. Samples:

1.Thomas Pynchon and J.D. Salinger both briefly occupied the same spider hole in 1967, yet never noticed the presence of the other.

2.Twilight author Stephanie Meyer once considered making Edward Cullen a “Mormon Aslan.” Turning away from religious allegory, she instead made the glittering man-child just plain boring.

3.Robert Frost’s reading of his poem “The Gift Outright” at JFK’s 1961 inauguration proved a last-minute substitution for the now-lost original, “Back that thang’ up, you double dirty dawg.”

4.Stephen King, celebrated horror-ist and columnist for Entertainment Weekly, entered into a period of despondency, worried that most all of his books were basically the same. Structurally speaking. Then he got over it.

5.In Franz Kafka’s famous short story “The Metamorphosis,” the opening line, here in the J. Underwood translation, “Gregory Samsa woke from uneasy dreams one morning to find himself changed into a giant bug,” was originally written as “Gregory Samsa woke from uneasy dreams one morning to find himself changed into Keith Richards.”

6.Mark Twain’s current bestseller The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California Press) was originally ordered to be printed 200 years after his death, rather than at the century point. What changed? Realizing that in 2010, printed books would no longer exist, Twain settled for a world where printed books still exist…but no one reads.

7.In response, the US State Department actually considered active book destruction, as seen in this shocking video, as a viable containment strategy for North Korea.

8.   John Grisham, celebrated legal thriller-ist, entered into a period of despondency, worried that most all of his books were basically the same. Structurally speaking. Then he decided to make Stephen King his hero.

9.   LIFE by Keith Richards with James Fox, a memoir of the guitarist’s rock ‘n’ roll hellraising, was actually ghost-written by an intelligent cockroach from the future who shares Richard’s company as the two traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape that has wiped away all other life from Earth. Just before Richards dies, he tells the cockroach that they can communicate in the roach’s imagination, whispering in his final moments, “burn my unpublished manuscripts/ Mick Jagger is a wanker.

10. Stieg Larsson’s translator’s titles for his unpublished manuscripts, perhaps already burned to nothing: The Girl Who Kicked the Girl Who Played With Fire and Ended Up With A Bad Case of Hot Foot; The Girl With the My Little Pony Tattoo. Represent!; and The Girl with the Rear That Won’t Quit (purportedly inspired by a lost Robert Frost poem).


Kindle photo courtesy of Karen Larson.


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Davis Schneiderman is a multimedia artist and writer and the author or multiple print and audio works, including the novels Drain, Abecedarium, and Blank; the co-edited collections Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game; as well as the audio-collage Memorials to Future Catastrophes. His first short story collection, there is no appropriate #emoji—with collaborations from Lance Olsen, Cris Mazza, Kelly Haramis, Stacy Levine, Tim Guthrie, Andi Olsen, and Megan Milks—will be released in 2020. He is Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty--and Professor of English--at Lake Forest College.

13 responses to “Publishing World Reels from WikiLeaks Revelations”

  1. Hilarious. I guess Twain settled for a world where people only grudgingly got to him after heralding Grisham as genius first. And of course, the publishing industry is going to downplay all this leaked info.

  2. yes, this thing is big. we may have to go undercover as romance novelists.

  3. Greg Olear says:

    I don’t know if those cables can be believed…call me skeptical, but I don’t think Ernest Hemingway offed himself to get out of his marriage to Courtney Love, for one thing, nor did Jonathan Franzen audition for “Dancing with the Stars.”

  4. Matt says:

    I’m enitrely inclined to believe #2 is real.

  5. Davis says:

    Not only did Franzen try out, but he offered an embarrassing version of Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner.

  6. Lenore says:

    keith richards –> giant bug. it doesn’t work because, despite disintegrating, KR is still oddly sexy. i can see why it was changed.

    funny post.

  7. dwoz says:

    the second wave of the top secret documents reveal that Dan Brown was actually a target of “Candid Camera” during his research for his blockbuster documentary/expose of the Priory of Sion.

    The show never aired his segment, finding in a focus group that a bit where they lit cow dung on fire garnered a far better audience reaction.

  8. Davis says:

    If only Dan Brown had been immolated. Then, we’d have the spectacle we deserve.

  9. Aaron Dietz says:

    Ha. This was hilarious! Love the Mark Twain one. It still weirds me out with pleasure that his autobiography is out.

  10. D.R. Haney says:

    I like the way the list finally amounts to a kind of narrative of fire and cockroaches, just as I like the idea of Keith Richards pulling a Kafka on his deathbed. But I do hope the cockroach doesn’t obey Keith, just as Max Brod didn’t obey Kafka. Oh, and I hope Brad doesn’t have to into hiding as the result of these leaks.

  11. Davis says:

    Supposedly, Kafka often told Brod to burn everything, and Brod always said he would *not*. Thus, the deathbed injunction–while nice and romantic–was probably a repeat of this old-friends “script,” with Kafka knowing full well it would be ignored.

    The cockroach, though, remains always inscrutable. The mind of the insect is so far from the mammal as to be separated by billions of dark epochs.

  12. M.J. Fievre says:

    LOL. I love it! There’s something quite comforting in Stephen King’s familiar structure.

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