Down in Tribeca
Re: Application to Join Book Entourage
Dear Mr. Z,
First, let me say that I am aware that your given name is Shawn Carter and that Jay-Z is a stage name. I thought that since I am applying to join your literary entourage, I would follow your lead and use the name you use for the cover of your magnificent new book, Decoded. I’m not sure what name the people in your music and fashion entourages use because the guards have never let me get close enough to figure it out. My hope is that after you read this application letter, all that will change.
You may not at first glance, consider me as a natural inner circle material. I am past forty, female, I live in the suburbs, in Canada, and I go to bed at 10:30 p.m. on the dot. You will find, however, that those things make me eminently qualified for a literary posse.
I realize that hordes of horn-rimmed twenty-something hipsters of all colours and backgrounds are vying for a spot on the team. Many of them probably contribute to online music magazines or were music editor on their college papers. The majority of them are probably male. Some may have written ’zines or even designed their own font.
This candidate pool is unsuitable for the following reasons: they will want to talk all the time about the history of hip hop and rap and will get offended if you haven’t heard of every single act they consider important. They will inevitably be working on academic theses and will bother you for quotes to impress their friends and professors. They will wear cardigans in a semi-offensive way and are likely to keep anonymous blogs where they will talk about what it’s like to be in your entourage in hopes of getting noticed by Gawker. Yes: they may have some book cred but they definitely don’t have what it takes to be a loyal, non-annoying literary entourage member.
There is probably also a towering stack of applications from a certain type of female fan. I think we can agree that they would cause more problems than they would solve. You are, after all, married to the ravishing Beyonce, or BK from Texas, as you so astutely put it. We wouldn’t want some crazy girl in a halter top pushing B.K. down the stairs in a fit of jealous rage! I think your wife would feel very comfortable with me. After all, I haven’t put on a halter top since late 2000. Chances are those groupie-types are not qualified to be part of a book entourage, particularly an entourage devoted to a literate, smart, well-designed book. Try this: Ask one of those women what she thinks of Garamond. If she tells you she went on holiday there once, you can immediately dismiss her. Alternatively, ask her what her feelings are about Gill Sans. If she say he’s a nice guy, except when he’s drunk, you can end it there. (Side note: Eric Gill was NOT A NICE MAN! That business with his daughter was a whole lot of Someone Call a Social Worker!) Ha. See, that’s the kind of joke we can share together when I get into the entourage because we, you and me, Z, are book people. If certain women of low character (do you mind if I call them that?) want to be in someone’s literary entourage, the boys from Motley Crüe wrote a book called The Dirt. That might be a better fit for them.
Apropos of nothing, I’d like to take this opportunity to say how much I love the look of Decoded and applaud your art direction and choice of book designer. Chip Kidd: eat your heart out. (Please note, if I was part of your literary entourage, we could share another chummy laugh over this reference to a top book designer. But with me over here and you over there, a large part of the effect of our shared amusement at bookish jokes is lost. Possibly forever. And that’s sad.)
I know a cover letter should only be a page, max, so I’ll wrap it up for now. Let me conclude by adding that one of the benefits of having a genuine over-forty woman, who also happens to be a writer, (we’ll discuss the implications of that further if I’m granted an interview or if I decide to write another, more attention-getting cover letter), in your entourage, is that book buyers are my people. That’s right. Once all the rap loving teens and twenty-somethings and music people and fashion people and people interested in contemporary culture and whomever else finish buying your book, we will start. And we won’t stop. Because we are the backbone of the book industry. A certain kind of woman in her teens, twenties and thirties is bookish, but it’s only when that kind of woman moves into her forties that she and her sisters become one nation under print. We write many of the books, we edit, publish and publicize the books, and we read almost all of them.
We are everyone’s target market. (Except for that guy who writes those heavily researched spy thrillers. His market is all over-fifty men who read his books when they aren’t writing apoplectic comments in response to online newspaper articles.)
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this and to consider me for the position. I would be very happy to discuss in detail all the hundreds, if not thousands of things I loved about your book and your career in general and how I can contribute to your literary entourage. Also, if you’re wondering whether I have any food allergies or favorite coffees or teas for when I go with you and the other members to afternoon literary salons, the answer is, Sleepy Time is great for evening, but green tea is best for day! Related to that, and in the interests of full disclosure, while I approve of your decision to boycott Cristal and replace it with Krug and Dom in your clubs, if the champers comes out during a literary event, you can just give mine to someone in your fashion or music entourages because I don’t drink any more. It’s sort of like how you don’t sell drugs any more, only my thing with drinking was significantly less lucrative. Actually, I guess it was pretty different now that I really think about it.
Please let me know if you have any questions after you read my CV, which will follow shortly.
With utmost respect,
Just in case you need help visualizing it…