Friday, March 5, 2010

Dear Editor,

To this message I have attached my short story "The Matter of the Eggplant".

A little about me: My name is Sagy Zwirn, 26, I'm an Israeli grad student and am now working on my thesis about Dostoyevsky in Tel Aviv University. I've been asked to write a book review for the British journal "Quarterly Review" and a short story of mine has been accepted for publication by David Bright's American "Gemini Magazine". Another literary journal as shown interest in my work. I've also written two novels, and my literary agent is now looking for a publisher. A major theatre has shown interest in a play I wrote and put it in their waiting list for production.

I hope that you will enjoy my story and think it worthy of your magazine.

Thank you,
Sagy Zwirn

The Matter of the Eggplant

The book you are about to read is not really a book at all. It is rather an eggplant. Yes. You did not misunderstand. An eggplant. After reading it, you might come to the conclusion, that it is not a good book at all, but then, consider this: How good of a book would you expect it to be, given the indisputable fact, that it is, at the same time, also an eggplant? I should think that one could demand very little of such a gourd of a book. Of course, some might claim that an eggplant, well sliced and cooked, could be very good indeed, and in more ways than one, but then, this would beg the question: having accosted the dubious worth of this literary endeavor, have you first sliced and cooked it? Have you broiled, steamed, or fried it? If you have not, you should probably feel ashamed for criticizing this work prematurely.
Then again, some might say that eggplants are, as a general rule - or perhaps always - unsatisfactory. If they are correct, you might say, that this whole work is done with before it has even started. Oh ye of little faith! Certainly a book that is also an eggplant is not the most common, perchance not even the most likely thing in the world, but one can not dispute the fact, that many uncommon and unlikely things, are in fact, quite beautiful. After all, even if you believe that gourds are not tasty, they can still make a good read.
Even this, which you are reading now, being a part of the book, is too an eggplant, or at least a part thereof. This might appear strange to you, perhaps even indecorous on the writer's part - that you are given a fragment of an eggplant to read. Still, it is the truth, and if Keats is correct, and truth is indeed beauty, then, this partial eggplant, which bits and pieces you are now gnawing at with your eyes and with your words (which are yours and yours alone, rather than the book's, as eggplants are not made of words), is quite beautiful.
Certainly a critic would demand of this work: "How can produce make a fine book? A thing is made for a purpose! A gourd is for eating, not for artistic appreciation! Trying to make sense of gourd, while at times insightful, is also quite unseemly! Nay, quite rude! Nay, quite the opposite of auspicious! Nay, quite couth! It should never be attempted without a proper license and proper registration and proper procedure! Yes, procedure! What literary style can a gourd offer? I should think not more than a very rudimentary one! Nay, no more than amateurish! Nay, mo more than a circumspect one! And circumspect style provides not a work of genius!
I should hope that no writer would ever attempt to write an eggplant, unless he had taken the proper steps beforehand. Wishy-washy results are to be expected otherwise!"
And perhaps he would be right. Perhaps only a very average novel can come out of an eggplant, and perhaps only a quasi-satisfactory play. But sometimes, perhaps one gourd in a thousand, will be much more than that. Should you not then, give any gourd in the pile a chance? Of course, you might hear the critic again:
"I should think no gourds should be allowed in my journal! How preposterous it would be, if an eggplant would find its way to the pages of such a magazine? Even if it is a very fine eggplant, even if it makes for a good or perhaps even a very good read, it is still an eggplant! No matter how good it is as art, it still has its eggplantine nature, and that cannot be undone! Eggplants, even if they are good novels or mediocre plays, should remain in a salad, where they belong!"
I don't know about a salad, because eating good art would seem a waste, but if it is indeed the nature of good art that it should be eaten, then perhaps I am mistaken.
"It is unheard of!" the critic would demand once more. "Unheard of! After all, a writer writes a book, and a writer can not make an eggplant, unless the writer is fertile soil! And I should think I would not want to read any book written by dirt!"
Perhaps it is a conflict, that a good book be an eggplant, when no writer that is human can produce from his quill, a full sized eggplant. And yet, sometimes the unlikely occurs. Perhaps some of the dirt in the world would make for good artists, and perhaps a human would one day give literary birth to a gourd. Stranger things have happened, and I would never feel myself so superior as to rule them out. Therefore, when a good eggplant of a book would come my way, before making it into a middle-eastern delight and biting into its supple flesh, I would always read it first. Perhaps it would make a very good book indeed.