“The Urgent Delay”

Dear Mr. Fellows:

I informed you a month ago the novel is due at the printer’s this week and as I mentioned yesterday in our abortive phone conversation I have very urgent questions concerning your most recent revisions, beginning with pages 32 and 33. The gold fish caught by the ivory hook now emerges from the river and speaks an ode from Keats, before its rich scales turn to granite, black as coal. Why not dull silver, topaz, lapis lazuli? On 112 when the green egg cracks an adult raw-headed condor flies from the shell, not the infant winged dragon we expect. The motivations of the boy named Allen in Chapter 5 seem wrong, out of key. On Blue Lake, he left the leaking boat to walk on water, to save the threatened villagers from the army of maddened infidels. Instead, you have him sink deeper and deeper, past a ruined inhabited Atlantis, until he grows gills like theirs and through the secret eel-lit tunnel reaches the South Polar Sea, Antarctica, in time to rescue the gilled princess trapped in ice. He taps softly at her solid transparent block, in Morris Code, a nice touch, and then she wakes, again fine craft, but no kiss follows at the icy pane. After Spring melt Allen spreads his milt across pink roe she leaves drifting in the cabin of the lost explorer’s wrecked ship. I won’t enumerate additional flaws in decorum, taste and tone I’ve not discovered in your earlier work. Is everything all right at home? Are you drinking as a few years past, when you were briefly hospitalized? Perhaps you can shed needed light on what I fear your many loyal readers will agree are aberrations in this new manuscript. At the end, why do the Smelt People rebel, navigate the flood to America, to Manhattan’s submerged streets, “in a flicker of sword blades swerve in unison,” swim elevator shaft to my office where “all were devoured by a quicker school than piranhas in the Amazon”? What have I ever done to you, but help advance your sparkling career? I hardly know what to say except a repeated performance like the one I’ve read would compel my filing a restraining order.


With sincere regret,

Sloan Masterson




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About Nels Hanson

Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and 2014, and has appeared in Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review and other journals. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review and other magazines, and are in press at Sharkpack Review Annual, The Straddler, Stoneboat, Meat for Tea, Squalorly, Sediments, Works & Days, Blotterature, Straight Forward Poetry, The Riding Light Review, and The Mad Hatter\\\\\\\'s Review. Poems in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.