The Mail I Get

I got an email this evening from a woman who was offended by an off-hand opinion expressed by Natalie in MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE:

There was a part where
Natalie describes listening to NPR, getting a dose of “left-leaning
news” and “liberal commentary.” NPR is a nonpartisan organization that
offers only the facts when delivering news updates. I mean, nothing
personal, but I dont like reading Natalie’s thoughts about anything,
but that was pretty outrageous. I get so frustrated because I really
like Monk but the fact that that was said, I don’t know if I can
continue reading them. Why can’t the book be in the third person?

Of all the things someone could be offended by in the book, I never would have picked the comment about NPR. I thought of a lot of smart-ass replies, but instead I wrote:

I’m a big fan of NPR, too, and I
contribute money each year to my local NPR station, but surely you know
as well as I do that the network is widely perceived as having a
liberal slant. Whether it is true or not, it’s a perception that
Natalie happens to share. It’s a shame that you don’t like hearing Natalie’s thoughts because I intend to continue writing the books in her voice.


12 thoughts on “The Mail I Get”

  1. On the plus side, your reader must have a wonderful life, if something so inconsequential moves her to complain. I’m happy for her!

  2. See, I would have added the following, too: “And, you stupid whore, if it were in 3rd person you’d still get Natalie’s thoughts. It’s called a book. And in books you get people’s thoughts.” But that’s just me.

  3. I think it was great that you moved to a higher level, from the smart comment to the patient and gentle explanation.
    The clueless are attracted to the talented, I guess, and what the talented gets out of the incident is practice in making their ideas more clear and more simple, which in turn, increases the size of their audience.
    (It works something like that.)
    In the book, THE HERO WITHIN, available at the Writer’s Store, the author says that after we learn how to be a Warrior, we learn how to be a Martyr, and this is necessary if we are to go on and learn how to be a Magician. Whether you agree or disagree, this book is really good for writers as it presents a theory of character development.

  4. She likely also believes that the Fox News Channel is “fair and balanced” – ha
    All things considered, it does seem odd to get your panties wadded about what a fictional character thinks – to the point you’re going to quit reading books because of it. She might need to get out a bit more…
    🙂 kim

  5. You handled that complaint very well, Lee. I too would have seriously considered using a smart aleck remark myself. However, responding the way you did was the adult thing to do.

  6. I’m a pretty conservative person, and NPR pisses me off more than Fox News, although Fox pisses me off, too (when the liberals are on). Fox seems to be more fair and balanced, not because the host are middle of the road, but becasue the other side gets a chance to voice their opinion. Let’s see NPR do that.

  7. One of the curses of our times is the multitude of ideologized readers of fiction. They often assume that the views of the characters are those of the author. Or they are peeved at any views expressed in the novel other than their own.
    I’ve had a bookseller refuse to handle one of my novels, The Buffalo Commons, which dealt with restoring the prairies to their original estate (which the novel obviously supports). I made the mistake of making one of the environmentalist characters a power-hungry bad-ass, and making some fun of trendy people who operate foundations. So he refused to handle the novel.

  8. Readers want to see their bias be it in newspapers or novels. A poower hungry bad ass directed toward a good cause like ecological restoration is a good thing. Without it the thing wouldn’t happen. Issues have to be driven by those with the guts to sick their neck out. Civil rights, for example.
    I just completed my first week as a Montana newspaper reporter. In four days, I was on the front page six times, interviewed Montana’s senator, met the governor and every local politician in Park County. Tough to top that, but I’ll certainly try.

  9. Not surprisingly, each and all appied their own prism to your prose, hoping to claim an ally — or ID a sworn foe. Personally I get a kick out of a narrator expessing an opinion, even a fictional one. Maybe in the next book you could give it a whole chapter (not kidding — put everybody’s politics in, mix it up, see what happens.) Coming from Chicago, where we don’t declare war on those we disaree with (except in print), I’ve gotten used to hearing views to the left of Lenin and to right of Genghis Khan, and I learned long ago not to take any of it personally. Feel free to diaagree — everyone does anyway.

  10. NPR? Liberal?!
    Only in the sense that, say, the Washington Post or David Broder are liberal! Which is to say: blandly, banally, simperingly faux-centrist.


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