Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book Pitch 5

The editor watched the gas lights flicker in the bar of the Willard Hotel where so many meetings and plots were hatched in Washington City. He relaxed in his chair looking quite fashionable in his mutton chop sideburns popularized by General Burnside. Now that the tragic war had ended, memoirs were a dime a dozen. Exactly on time his 7:00 o’clock appointment walked briskly through the door to pitch another. He was slender, ramrod straight, and carried himself befitting his blue uniform with gold trim.

“General Wallace at your service, Mr. Editor,” he said in clipped words.

Please, General, have a seat and tell me about your book. Is it about your capture of the Confederate forts in Kentucky?”


“Then your role in the terrible bloodletting at Shiloh?”


“So it’s about the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley?”


“The trial of Lincoln’s assassins?”


“The court martial of that fiend Henry Wirz who ran Andersonville prison?”


“Good God, man! I mean General. What is your book about?”

“A Jew.”

“A Jew? My dear General, this is a Christian nation. I doubt there will be interest in a Jew.”

“Sir, my last duty was in New Mexico settling a range war between ranchers, and I had abundant time to think.”

“New Mexico? There’s an old sot, name of Kincaid, trying to peddle his memoirs to me. Do you know him?”

“Yes. Sad case.”

“Quickly, give me the essence of your story.”

“A Jewish prince is betrayed and sold into slavery. A Roman benefactor restores his freedom, and he returns to Jerusalem in time to see Christ die.”

“That’s it?” the editor asked, shaking his head.

“What’s the title?”


“I’m sorry, General, but this has no commercial appeal.”

“What if I changed the title to BEN-HUR?”



WouldBe said...

Good one.

“What if I changed the title to BEN-HUR?”

"Ben-hur done that," said EE with a laugh. "It'll never fly."

--Bill H.

Dave F. said...

I never thought of Wallace and his novel. Interesting and done well.

talpianna said...

I feel morally obliged to disparage this, as Lew Wallace was a graduate of Wabash College, the traditional rival of my own alma mater, De Pauw University.

But I can't. It's too good.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Nice way to work Kincaid into the exercise!

Wes said...

He wrote Ben-Hur when President Grant sent him to NM to stop the Lincoln County Range War. I used to eat in a bar he frequented in Cerrillos, until the bastard who owned it burned it down for insurance money. Damn, it was a colorful place. He psychopath Billy the Kid was the best known participant in the Lincoln County war.

talpianna said...

Yep, I know about that bit of Western history, Wes. I'm a fan of Bob Boze Bell's Western stuff.