Riffing Again

Dear Mr Rupert Murdoch,

This is your author who your company Harper publishes under the pen name of Scrad Riske, and who is living in Maine under the name of Trespassers W. because of being persecuted in Oregon for some things I was accused of about some old guy’s wallet and defaulting and child support and stuff.

I wrote you a while back* and told you how that was just lies and the only crime I ever actually committed was writing my book you published, Emily Bronte and the Vampires of Lustbaden. I am now very confused because I have finished the sequel, Alfred Lord Tennyson and the Zombies of Sex-Coburg, only my agent said to change the title to Lord Alfred Tennyson and the Zombies of Sex-Coburg so it would be in the right order and I always do what my agent says, but what confuses me is this. In your contract for my book it said that if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales,” my contract would be terminated. And so I told you then that I was paying strict attention to public conventions and moral just like you do, and you were my Role Model. And I was looking forward to making lots of money from my new book so I could pay the woman that rewrote it several times and my lawyers. But now you yourself have personally shown conduct that evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, and are accused of crimes that tend to bring you into serious contempt by absolutely everybody, except The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. So it is hard to know what to think. I have stopped watching Fox News because after I watch it I cannot think at all for several hours.  Can it be true that what is wrong and bad for Authors to do is OK and fine for rich people to do?  I am so confused I wonder maybe should I terminate our contract myself and go back to Blitzen, Oregon, where it seems like crime is sort of simpler and not so many people are quite so contemptible. If you have any advice for me I would like very much to hear it.

Your Troubled Author,

Trespassers W., a.k.a Scrad Riske

21 July, 2011


*See A Riff on the Harper Contract, 18 Jan. 2011


Ursula K. Le Guin is a founding member of Book View Café



Riffing Again — 5 Comments

  1. Dear Mr. (or is that Ms.) Riske,

    As a contracts manager for Harper, I was given your letter to respond to. I have been instructed to inform you that authors are in an entirely different classification from executives. While I am not privy to the contracts signed by executives, I argue every day with agents and authors who protest the very clause you identify, and I am continually explaining to them that their morals are part of Harper’s bottom line and thus are of great interest to the corporation we see as a loving but stern parent.

    Executives, on the other hand, do not achieve their positions if they have morals, so they cannot be held to the same standard.


    C. Toady

  2. Ms. LeGuin:

    If you love Stephen Fry (and, I hope you do) and, you love Hugh Laurie (pre-House) and, you DON”T love Rupert Murdoch, then you will probably like the following sketch, a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life” appropriately re-titled “What if Rupert Murdoch Had Never Been Born”.


    Enjoy the accompanying schadenfreude.

  3. Dear People at Book View Café and Webmistress Person:

    I feared this would happen. Scrad was just so anxious and miserable, I had to let him write you again.

    I am his aunt who he sends his mail through because of living in Cogneeto the way he has to.

    I can tell you in confidence that Scrad’s real name is Dood Royal Ganglehard, but he likes to be called by his pen name. He isn’t really from Blitzen. He is from Fresno, but he started writing novels when he was sort of hiding out in Burns for a while. He was so happy when the Harper Publisher printed his book!

    Now today Scrad read this in the news and just nearly went all to pieces.

    “I feel that people I trusted— I don’t know who, on what level — have let me down, and I think they have behaved disgracefully, and it’s for them to pay.”
    (RUPERT MURDOCH, denying personal responsibility for the phone hacking scandal that has racked his media empire.)

    You see Scrad is very sensitive and so he feels it’s his fault letting poor Mr Murdoch who was his Role Model down like that. By behaving disgracefully. Scrad just doesn’t know how to make it up to poor Mr Murdoch. He’s talking about going to the House of Parliament and trying to apologise to all the lords and things there and tell them not to persecute Mr Murdoch and his boy Jimmy. Scrad knows what it’s like to be persecuted by the police and all them.

    He just feels so bad for Mr Murdoch. And also Mr Murdoch says it’s for him to pay but he doesn’t have anything to pay with. He was hoping maybe Mr Murdoch did.

    He would be cheered by your sympathy.

    Yours Very Truly,

    Mrs F. T. Thang (Ganglehard)