The Fox in the Garage Part 14: The First Letter to Symphony Press

November 18, 2010

May 25, 2010

Dear Symphony Press,

The other day at the library I read parts of your book called Animals. I was looking for information on what foxes eat because I have a fox problem and I was trying to poison it. But that’s not why I’m writing this letter. I also read about other animals too and in your section about polar bears you say that all polar bears are left-handed. I was very pleased to learn this as I, too, am left-handed and I’ve always felt that polar bears were wonderful and learning this only made my feelings stronger.

But a few days after that I told my mailman that all polar bears were left-handed. And later on that week he said that he went online and read that all polar bears are not in fact left-handed. Some are right-handed, others are left-handed. I said, No, it says in the animals book that all polar bears are left-handed. He said there was a rumor started on the internet that all polar bears are left-handed and people started believing it because they’re too lazy to do their own research. I was very upset over this. I don’t have internet at my own house but the next time I was at my boyfriend Gary’s house I went online and looked into it and yes, a website said it is in fact a lie. A lie that you reprinted in your book.

Now, I am not a bookworm. Nor am I a librarian. I can’t tell you what you can and can’t print in your book. You can print whatever nonsense you read on the internet if you want to. If that’s gonna sell books, then go to town, sirs and madams. It won’t bother me. Say in your book that owls have two dicks. One for piss and one for semen. Say that all grasshoppers used to be people in past lives. Say that every time an owl hoots he’s saying, Oh how life is strange and changeful! If people want to believe it, so be it. I don’t care. There’s no law that says you can’t lie through your teeth in books. All books are lies anyway, right? The best ones are at least.

But if you’re going to do that then you have to call the book fiction. On the spine of Animals it says that the book is non-fiction. A.k.a. True. But it’s not true. It’s fiction. God knows how many other lies are in your book. I didn’t read the whole book, only the parts about foxes and polar bears, so I don’t know what else you lie about in there but I have a feeling there are more lies in there.

You may be asking what I want. What I’m trying to achieve with this letter. Not much, really. I don’t want a refund or anything. I didn’t spend money on your book. (I would NEVER buy your book.) It was at the library so it was free to read. But I would like an apology, and I want you to reprint the book with the polar bear lie and any other lies taken out for the sake of everyone who reads the book in the future. Do that, or call it fiction and put even more lies in there. You can use the one about owls having two dicks if you want, I won’t ask for royalties.

What if I were a child doing a book report on polar bears and I wrote in my report that all polar bears were left-handed and my teacher read it and said, No they’re not, you didn’t check your facts, you’re getting an F. It would be your fault. Heck, maybe that’s happened before. You could be responsible for a poor kid failing biology class. Some poor kid never finished high school because you were too lazy to check facts and published whatever garbage you read on the internet. And this kid was too lazy to write you a letter so the facts stayed in the book and you never put out a corrected book because it would take time and energy and you people at Symphony Press are too busy enjoying your purple martinis at parties on top of the Empire State Building to worry about your readers. That’s why I’m writing this letter. To tell you that here in Dayton we’re fed up.

LOVE,

Linda Lauper

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August 5, 2010

Dear Ms. Lauper,

Thank you for your letter. It’s always nice to receive correspondence from a reader.

You raise some interesting points about the roles of fiction and non-fiction, and while I don’t have time to address each of them I will speak to your grievance about our book, Animals. When doing research for Animals we did not consult internet pages whatsoever. Our facts are based on interviews with credentialed zoologists as well as peer-edited reference books. I assure you that each fact in the book is true. Our team of experts and copyeditors spent over a year compiling and fact-checking each chapter, including the chapter on polar bears. In fact, before writing this letter I double-checked with our chief zoologist and he said that all polar bears are indeed left-handed. He explained it to me thusly:

Research has shown that polar bears native to the Arctic region predominantly use their left paw for hunting. When stalking prey, a polar bear will use its right paw to cover its nose, the darkest spot on its body. This way, the bear will blend into its snowy white surroundings. The bear will then use its left hand to strike the animal it wishes to kill and eat.

If you would like further proof, there is a scientific essay you should read. It’s called “Fractures of the Radius and Ulna Secondary to Possible Vitamin D Deficiency in Captive Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus).” It can be found in the autumn 2004 issues of the journal Animalia, which is published biannually by SUNY Purchase. In the essay researcher Karen V. Tennis writes that scientists have found evidence of left-handedness in all polar bears. One study of injury patterns in polar bear forelimbs found injuries to the left forelimb to be more frequent than those to the right, suggesting left-handedness. The point being that polar bears are using their left hand more often than their right hand. The essay is unfortunately not available online. Your library might subscribe to Animalia, but if they don’t, you should consider asking the librarian to order the autumn 2004 issue for you. The essay is a good read and I feel it will clear up many things for you.

So, thank you again for your interest in Animals. We will not be changing the chapter on polar bears. Nor will we be calling the next version of the book (due out October 2012!) a work of fiction. It is non-fiction, a.k.a True.

Best,

Tom Diggs

Director of Marketing and Publicity

Symphony Press

1745 Broadway Suite #7

New York, NY 10019

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