How Oprah Turned My Rat Into the Next James Frey
I’m sitting at my desk, working on a short story, when my rat, Ralphie, jumps up on my lap, crawls onto the desk, and as he scampers over the keyboard of my laptop he types this: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxfgfoiu0. Then he’s off the laptop and stationed in his corner by the CD rack, turned around so he can watch me as he obsessive-compulsively cleans himself. An idea occurs to me and I pick Ralphie up, set him back down on the keyboard, and he stays in one place for a moment before moving again, making ggggggggggllllllpppp appear on screen. We do it again, and again, and again. I shell out fifteen bucks and submit the piece to a short story contest. It wins first place. I tell my agent about it. He says try to write another story. We do, this one titled ccccyyyyy9999]]]. My agent submits it to The New Yorker. The New Yorker loves it. They decide to publish it in their summer fiction issue. Next thing we know, publishers start a bidding war for a book yet to be written by my rat. Random House wins. The book is published with a first printing of 100,000 copies. It debuts at number 18 on the New York Times Extended Bestseller List for Hardcover Nonfiction. Warner Bros. buys the movie rights. Oprah calls. She loves the book, wants my rat to come on the show. I bring Ralphie out on stage, sit down in one of the big couches, and hold my rat up so the cameras can get a good shot of his nose and whiskers. The audience goes awww. Oprah asks Ralphie questions; he starts cleaning himself. The show airs and the book climbs the bestseller lists, making number 1. Then the trouble starts. A website claims some of what Ralphie wrote isn’t true. Like in chapter 3, where he says h;lb e2N2, they claim nuvy;n PO+09 really happened. Also, in chapter 7, where he wrote [[[[[[[[[[[[, they insist zh3wsssn555555555555555svvvvvvvvvvvv is the truth. It goes on and on. Ralphie is asked on Larry King Live. We decline. Every major newspaper wants an interview. Oprah makes a big stink. She says she can’t believe this has happened again. Ralphie is forced to come back onto the show. She asks him if it’s true parts of his book are made up. Ralphie doesn’t answer. She says does his silence mean he admits he’s a liar? He buries his head into the crook of my arm. The audience no longer goes awww. Now they boo. We leave the stage in shame. Random House gives readers the chance to return the book for a full refund. They publish a new edition with a disclaimer written by Ralphie that says dddddddiiiiiiii———-===. The book quickly falls off the bestseller lists. Warner Bros. lets the movie option expire. It seems my rat’s literary career is over. Then one day James Frey contacts us. Says he feels bad for Ralphie, but wonders if maybe Ralphie wouldn’t mind working on a project with him. Next week their collaboration will be released by Simon & Schuster. It’s called A World Without yp;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;y and has a first printing of 250,000 copies.