Dispatches | November 05, 2010

For a long time, I would describe the manuscript I was working on (tongue in cheek—mainly) as my “baby.” When the book got taken, for a month it was still my baby. Then I learned that my wife would be having a baby, an actual one, at which point the baby became the “baby” and the book became the “book.”

Yet I still become confused sometimes over the two impending arrivals. Recently, I was painting the nursery. After working for a while, I called down the hallway that I’d finally finished the first draft. And I’ve absolutely referred to the book’s publication date as its due date.

I’m slowly learning to sort out my nomenclature. I’m also learning that nothing is bound up with as many accoutrements as a baby. So many items. So many products—like the BabyPlus Prenatal Education System. The purpose of this system (yours for $149.99 at Babies R Us) if I read the description correctly—is to teach your child various sounds and rhythms in utero. You play the sounds up to your belly for two hours a day, and the product claims to make babies (once they’re born) more alert and responsive, better sleepers, and—get this—better prepared for school!

Surely, I thought, there must be a similar product for the other type of baby. Some kind of “BookPlus Prepublication System.”

Product Description
The BookPlus Prepublication System is a sampling of our patented PositiveAcoustics meant to be played to the nascent manuscript. Your manuscript will learn to recognize such sounds as a workshop leader saying, “Put that gem in the mail already,” a Barnes & Noble employee stating, “I can’t believe how quickly that title sold out,” and Oprah Winfrey gushing to a rapt studio audience. BookPlus is unquestionably the most valuable start you can give to your manuscript! This one-of-a-kind system is easy and safe to use. For optimal benefits, start using BookPlus between 18 and 32 completed chapters and continue using for two hours daily until publication. May cause seizures.

Michael Kardos is the author of the story collection One Last Good Time, forthcoming in February 2011 from Press 53. While earning his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, he served as Contest Editor for The Missouri Review. He currently co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. His website is michaelkardos.com.

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