Discover more from Chuck Palahniuk's Plot Spoiler
Ephemera: Story is Everything
Especially when you're a scam artist
Everything is story, so good storytelling is vital. Everything. But first, a story…
In 2016 I was at Logan Airport in Boston when a face caught my eye. A woman sat near the boarding gate. I walked over and asked, “Are you Jody?” We hadn’t seen one another in twenty years, but here was someone I’d worked with at Freightliner Trucks. She was in Boston to celebrate her birthday with a friend. I was on the tour to promote the graphic novel Fight Club II. We were both flying to Portland, Oregon. As the flight began boarding we exchanged email addresses. Both of us, filled with joy from this reunion.
Yesterday Jody emailed me. A nice surprise. She asked if I’d do her a favor, so I wrote back to ask what that favor was. She sent the following:
Good to hear from you, I need to get Google Play gift cards for my friend who is diagnosed with Stage 3 metastasized breast cancer, She had lost both parents to the disease (COVID-19. It's her birthday, but I can't do this now, because I'm currently out of town, the stores around here are out of stock and all my effort purchasing it online proved abortive.. I was wondering if you could help me get it from any store like (Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Target, Pharmacies or any stores around you? I'll surely refund it back to you as soon as possible, when I get back.
Kindly Let me know if you can handle this for me, I will be very grateful.
My comments: Dear “Jody,” it’s wonderful to hear from you again, and please accept my best wishes for your friend in her time of dire medical need. If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions about your writing.
Learn how to use closing parenthesis. I understand you’re upset about your friend, but Covid-19 and …stores around you? need to be closed with a parenthesis. When you proof your work, consider printing it. Even printing it in an unusual typeface, then reading it aloud.
Also, if you’ll pardon my saying so, a Google Play gift card hardly seems appropriate for a person facing a terminal illness while surrounded by death and grief. Since this is her birthday, might I suggest giving something more personal and tactile? If you want to spin the moment as quirky, consider sending a live iguana. I’m told they’re remarkably affectionate, and unlike cats, they’ll not sit on your chest waiting to suck out your last dying breath.1 In light of your friend’s possible imminent death, it’s best you save the sales receipt so the iguana can be returned to the seller if need be.
Just say the word, and I will start to hit the local iguana retailers.
Please don’t take offense, “Jody,” but your language comes across as a little stilted, too. For example the words “abortive” and “surely.” The construction “refund it back” also jolts me out of the fictive dream. So be careful with your wording.
In this time of such wide-spread despair, it’s wonderful to see you caring for your friend. Now I’d like to see you care about your writing.
Wishing you safe travels, “Jody.” Please let me know where to deliver the iguana. He is a green iguana, Iguana iguana, aka the American iguana. His name is Tetherfield.
Jody, a writer friend, Chelsea Cain, tells me that cats sit on the dying because the temperature of a human body skyrockets shortly before death. Thus a dying person becomes the most comfy seat in the house.