A Marvellous Email From A Good Sport

Not infrequently, our posts have sequels. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote, tongue in cheek, about a near-encounter with Garrison Keillor, Minnesota’s unfunny humorist. An excerpt:

Tired from a long day, I couldn’t work much after the first half hour of the flight, and cast about for something to do. I noticed that a book had been jammed into a pocket on the wall next to my seat–2D–and, curious, pulled it out.
It was a pre-publication copy of a book called The Happiest Man in the World, about a man called Poppa Neutrino who could be described, without fear of contradiction, as eccentric. Stuck into the pages of the book was a one-page, handwritten note on Random House Publishing Group stationery, signed by one of the senior officers of that firm. The note began:

Dear Garrison:
As promised, Alec Wilkinson’s marvellous [sic] “The Happiest Man in the World,” … I would be so grateful if you could spring for a quote for the book. You are perfect for it.

At the top of the page, someone else has written in a different hand, with multiple crossings-out which I don’t know how to reproduce: “Mr. Wilkinson has created a masterpiece of reporting, with a [“novella” crossed out] story on every page.”
I immediately realized what had happened. “Garrison” is Garrison Keillor, Minnesota’s bitter, once-funny “humorist,” now sunk in dark political conspiracy theories. Keillor had sat in seat 2-D on the flight from Minneapolis to New York–a fact confirmed by the empty sushi package I discovered at my feet, missed, apparently, by the cleaning crew–and had jammed his review copy of The Happiest Man in the World into the pocket next to his seat, possibly in disgust, maybe just to make room for his sushi, and forgot to reclaim it when the plane landed.
So–even though we have ripped him a number of times for his bitter, paranoid political commentary–Garrison, I’ve got your book! If you need to finish reading it before completing your blurb, send an email to [email protected], and I’ll arrange to get it to you.

We didn’t hear from Keillor, but we did get a nice email from the author of the handwritten note, Daniel Menaker, the Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House:

“Marvellous” is an alternate spelling of the word, favored by some wordfreaks like me, and Anglophiles, and those who generally like to double the consonant–for the sake of a vestigial eye-brain pronunciation connection–when allowed (as in “rivetted”). The New Yorker also uses–or at least used to use–this spelling. (My guess is that this matter of orthography is not the only New Yorker position with which you might take issue.) And since Garrison Keillor and I worked there together for many years, I like to stick to the old ways when I write to him (this should warm a conservative’s heart–no?), so that my memories of that time will not be cancelled [sic] out.

We appreciate Mr. Menaker’s good humour, in recognition of which, I’m recanting that slightly snarky [sic]. And I”ve still got the book. Dafydd ab Hugh offered me $10 for it, but I’m holding out for a better offer.


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