||[Oct. 26th, 2005|11:12 pm]
Dear Gordon Korman, |
I would send you this letter but that would be mean. Better to write it and leave it posted online for you to stumble across while drunk-googling yourself when up too late with a sick child.
It's not a love letter, more of a note to let you know that the relationship, the long and passionate and polyamorous relationship, is a thing of the past. You sold us out. This is the nature of your kind. We had hoped that the rarity of child prodigies and idiot savants in literature meant that you simply held immense potential to be tapped for years to come. But apparently whomever said that most authors only know one story had it right. And when you decided to start writing stories you didn't know, it was over between us.
"This Can't Be Happening at McDonald Hall" wasn't your best book, but it was pretty damn good for a twelve year old when I read it at age eight, and even more impressive when I passed my twelfth (and then thirteenth, fourteenth, etc.) birthday still unpublished. I'm not sure about this, I'd have to go back and look, but I think you peaked in the late 80s. Strange, isn't it? A terrible time for so many aspects of North American culture, but for you, the highest height. "No Coins, Please" and "Don't Care High" and "A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag."
According to my calculations, your last good book was "Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood" or "The Twinkie Squad" in 1992. "Toilet Paper Tigers" had its moments, but it also portent what lay ahead. "Radio Fifth Grade" was a clear advertisement to the (any?) powers that be that your soul was for sale. It was the literary equivalent of putting a "for sale" sign on the lawn. And by the time your sports series and shipwreck series came out, you were long gone. Far enough from your original self that I had to check with librarians and the nascent internet to ascertain that this was, indeed, the same Gordon Korman.
In "Son of the Mob" you hit rock-bottom. It was the avada kedavra rebounding on you, reducing you to something barely recognizable as a once-promising Canadian writer. In it you plagarized your own writing, recycling jokes and scenes from your earlier, good books. And you didn't tell them nearly as well as the first time around.
I say all this as an old friend, someone who now values your health over the health of our friendship. You know I care about your writing; you're the first author I ever wrote to. I still pick up copies of your *good* books when I see them in thrift stores and garage sales. I recommend you (with caveats) to friends. You are at least a major dialect in the language I speak with my brothers, so immersed were we in your books growing up -- welding and briefcases and safety pins and bugs and RVs and tire pressure gauges. And just tonight my brother said "windmill" in the same paragraph as "Halloween" which of course developed into a conversation of Howard's dressing as "The Windmill" at the party and doing it as a dance and even before that, when he talked about Halloween contests, I thought of Ashley. And even early in the day when I was at the bank with my parents, my mother couldn't stop gushing about her banker, a ringer for Boots. She thought it must've been the influence of that George Wexford Smythe III.
See? We did love your books, all of us, mother and father and children, like a good American or Canadian nuclear family. I have tapes of me reading "Beware the Fish" outloud for my uncle on his drive to Florida thirteen years ago. It still takes conscious effort for me to remember that the world does not function according to the same rules set down in your writing, and that I should not use Bruno and Boots as models of community organizing.
Perhaps it's our fault for falling so hard for you. But the year I found out that there was a sequel to "Who is Bugs Potter?" and I waited months and months for it, it didn't disappoint. Nope. You saved up disappointment, decided to leave us with a flourish, with writing so juvenile, predictable, and inane that we couldn't believe it came from you. With no hope of a brighter future.
Gordon, if I were Bruno, I would long ago have been expelled by Mr. Wizzle for ranting about the sanctity of your books being threatened. If I were Bugs, my insappably blind optimism would be gone. If I were The Fish, you'd be dead of my steely glare. If I were Querada, more than just the curtains would have burned down. Of all your characters, I think only Jordy's agent would be on speaking terms with you.
We miss you. We mourn the death of a writer of great potential and his replacement by a robot, as Gramps would say. It's as if the poetry, not Gavin G. Gunhold, got runover by the trolley.
So this is it, Gordon.