Thursday, June 4, 2009

Criticized to Death

by Travis Richardson

Everybody hates a critic, but nobody was hated more than Harvey McMannus. When his body washed ashore, the question wasn’t who did it, but who didn’t.

Hurricane Harvey devastated anything in his path with written and verbal brutality rarely witnessed since the Inquisitions. First time writers, post-review, quit the craft and took up physical labor. Well-known writers either retired or chose pseudonyms for their civilian life. He had restraining orders against each ex-wife - #1 (kankles) threw a knife, #2 (lousy cook) attempted poison and #3 (mouth breather) cut the brakes. Even under police protection, Harvey found himself in danger after publishing an editorial about flatfoot luddites polluting the force. Daily, waitresses, cashiers, and postal employees were reduced to tears. A citywide cost-benefit analysis found his presence equaled losses in morale, staff, and customers. Eventually his money was no good anywhere.

So who killed Harvey? Sheriff Grover (man-child Neanderthal) interviewed the entire town and every skewered subject. All had motive and a few, hoping for glory, confessed. But none did it. Poring through his papers, Grover found a single positive review. Harvey’s prose glowed for “The Dastardly Detective,” a novel by Harry McNell. Internet and Library of Congress searches yielded neither the novelist nor tome.

When searching Harvey ’s car, yellowed sheets of the novel emerged with sentences so contrived that even “Drop-Out” Grover guffawed. On the cover page in red ink somebody wrote “Absolutely terrible. You have no chance as a writer.”

Harvey had given up the dream, swallowing bitter water.

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