Seven days ago, my first book was released. Now, nobody will talk to me. Not my wife, not my parents, not my brother and sister, not my in-laws, not my girlfriend, not even my ninety-four-year-old grandma, who doesn’t recognize us, her family, half the time, but who, somehow, recognized herself in my novel.
The day before my novel was published, I emailed an announcement to all people whom I’ve met in the course of my thirty-five years. I sent this announcement to all the mailing lists and societies I belonged to and to all my classmates from nursery school through college whose email addresses I could find.
I was so eager to know what everyone thought of my book, that I spent the first three days waiting for them to call me with praises. When none of them did, I began calling them myself.
My father refused to come to the phone. My mom asked me not to call for a while, until “things quieted down. You don’t want your father to have another heart attack, do you?”
The conversation with my brother was even shorter: “Is that you, you son of a bitch? You aren’t my brother. I don’t have a brother!” Click.
My sister, who never answers her phone, picked up on the second ring and politely asked me to get lost and never be found again.
At first I didn’t know how to react to this outpouring of negative emotions, so I continued calling all my relatives, then friends, then colleagues.
Every time I dialed a number and they didn’t check their Caller ID, there was a hanging up click once they heard my voice. Soon I was thrilled at the sound that meant GZING! GZING of the old-fashioned cash register, another sucker bought my book!
My wife took it the hardest.
“Why does the girlfriend look and talk like me? Does that mean that you have a girlfriend?”
“No, honey! What girlfriend? What are you talking about? This is fiction! It’s a novel, remember?”
“No way! Moron, you would never be able to come up with a plot like that! It’s too real. You simply remembered all our conversations. Or have you taped them?”
“Never! Why would I do a thing like that? And you know how bad my memory is. I made it all up!”
My girlfriend was mad for the same reason.
“Why did you have to make me your wife? I thought you loved me, and not her!”
“I do love you! And you are not a character in my book. My book is a piece of fiction, honey!”
“Oh, really? How come the wife in the book looks and sounds exactly like me? I hate you! Don’t call me!”
After a week of total isolation and spending endless hours on amazon.com to watch my sales ranking, I realized I had to get out of the house if only for a bit of a friendly conversation. I walked to the local coffee shop and sat by the front window. Annie who had served me breakfast every day for the last three years turned away in disgust. I waited ten minutes, no luck. Things got worse when I got to the barbershop where the sign changed to “Closed” when I was four steps away from the door.
I drove to the nearest Barnes and Noble to check the display and finalize the details of my book signing scheduled for this Saturday, but there was no display or stacks of my books anywhere in sight. The store manager was away at a meeting, and no one could help me.
The only person left in my life who didn’t give a damn about being a character in my book was my agent. He returned my call later that seventh day.
“I hear things aren’t so hot on your end. But I’ve got some great news! The publisher offered you a three-book deal! Come in and sign tomorrow.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. I could do it! I’ll write another book and they will all come back to me, they will all love me again.
Seven months ago, my second book was published. Nobody’s talked to me ever since.