They’d been sitting in silence for some time. Not minutes, but eye contact can make seconds longer than minutes.
‘And this would be a children’s book?’ said the publisher at last.
‘A picture book, yes,’ said the author. ‘Or possibly one of those ones with lots of different materials and surfaces for them to touch.’
Three quarters of the eye contact continued. The remaining eye was beginning to twitch.
‘And children would read it?’ said the publisher.
‘Only the very smart ones. For the most part I expect their parents will read it to them.’
The publisher looked down at the thing in front of her. The torn pieces of cardboard had not been sewn together with a steady hand. ‘This book that you’ve written.’
‘The book titled ‘Never Try, The Meritocracy Is A Lie’.’
The author smiled at hearing his words said aloud. His teeth looked like refugees fleeing a war. ‘At first I was going to call it ‘The Bastards Have Already Robbed You’, but then I thought the children would probably prefer a title that rhymes.’
‘Naturally. Although I do note that you’ve kept ‘The bastards have already robbed you,’ for the first line.’
‘I think it’s important to sum up the theme as soon as possible.’
‘And you think that’s an important theme for children?’
‘I’ve never understood why we think it’s important to warn them about fire and strangers, but not the socioeconomic systems that lock them in an invisible cage of their own complacency.’
The publisher couldn’t help herself. ‘Why read them ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, but not ‘The Man Who Cried Trickle Down Economics’?’
‘Exactly!’ The author had begun to visibly vibrate. ‘I’m already working on a follow up. At the moment it’s called ‘Material Possessions Are The Jackboot Of Your Oppressors,’ but I’m working on making it rhyme. ‘
‘And that is also a children’s book?’
‘Yes. I started out writing novels for adults, but nobody would publish them. They just kept publishing Harry Potter. Apparently adults prefer books written for children. So I thought, ‘fuck ’em all, I might as well give this a go before I hang myself.’
‘Possibly the title for your third book?’
While each strand of the author’s hair went in a different direction, none of them went in a direction that seemed physically possible. ‘Now that you mention it.’
The publisher looked down at the thing in front of her, and then back at the author. ‘Well, you’re right about one thing. The world exists for capitalism, and publishing is a business. Ultimately, we’re driven by profit, rather than any concerns for the wellbeing of our culture or societal intelligence. If people will buy it, we don’t care if it’s scribbled backwards on old birthday cards.’
‘My book’s scribbled backwards on old birthday cards!’
‘Because you don’t trust computers.’
‘So… what are you saying?’
‘Thanks to the rapidly growing market of people who care more about their own anger than coherency or logical arguments, you are now the owner of a brand new pair of figurative jackboots.’
Other great children’s books include:
Societal Norms Are Arbitrary
Families Are Friends Who Can’t Leave You
Money Is Imaginary
The Three Pigs And Their Exploitation At The Hands Of Cost Cutting Developers With Too Much Political Influence