Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Dinty W. Moore writes about Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals, just published by Ten Speed Press.



If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a brunch item, it would be an omelet with spiced zebra meat and firm avocado. Brunch would be served in a remodeled gas station, with Esso still written above the big bay doors. Our waitress, Midge, would call us “Honey,” and pour coffee until we couldn’t take it anymore. Her hair would be orange. “You’re like a skeleton,” she would say, trying to get us to order more food. “The pie was made this morning.”

If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a game show, it would be hosted by George Plimpton, and contestants would be shown arcane punctuation marks – the pilcrow, the interrobang, the octothorpe, and the manicule – and, in fifteen seconds, they would have to use two of these punctuation marks correctly in a sentence. The sentence would also have to include the words “flabbergasted,” “pulchitrude,” and “doodle sack.” If a contestant failed, they would be chased from the stage by beavers.

If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a breed of dog, it would be a flandoodle. (Look it up.) The flandoodle would pee everywhere.

If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a literary journal, it would have a hip name like Sexual Hysterics Quarterly, and a post office box that was only checked every six months. The editor would take all submissions back to his Brooklyn apartment and use them to raise his futon off of the floor.

If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a basic cable channel, there would be shows about the sex lives of world-weary Clydesdales, about famous American novelists who wore tattered boxer shorts, and about Michele de Montaigne’s version of coq au vin, an exquisite dish combining a tart red wine reduction and hunks of human flesh. Late every Sunday evening, a person with no gender conformity whatsoever would dress as young King Charlie the 9th and host a call-in talk show where folks would rant endlessly about the coming polar bear apocalypse, which is not what you think—not the calamitous fate of polar bears facing diminishing ice fields—but the rumor that polar bears are totally pissed at what we’ve done to the planet and are slowly heading south, to give us a piece of their mind, before eating us. The host would encourage folks in this belief. Armed militias would be formed at the Canadian border. There would be horrible instances of elderly men shooting women in white fur coats.

If Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy were a super hero, it would in fact be an oversized flandoodle. It would wear a sweater with the words “I quote others only in order the better to express myself” emblazoned in bold red letters. While criminals tried to puzzle out the meaning of those words, Super Flandoodle would pounce upon them with both paws and lick their faces into submission. If that didn’t work, the flandoodle’s sidekick, “Micky Montaigne,” a plush mascot semblance of the 16th Century French nobleman and father of the essay form, would shout quotes from Plutarch and Cicero at the evil-doers until they collapsed in intellectual exhaustion.

Super Flandoodle would pee everywhere.


Dinty W. Moore is author of Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals, as well as the memoir, Between Panic & Desire. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore lives in Athens, Ohio, where he grows heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions. Find him on Twitter at @brevitymag.