Thursday, April 14

4/14/05 – Champs vs. Just Another Team

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. On Sunday, Jose wrote a letter to Katherine A. Powers, who wrote the Boston Globe’s review of 347 different Red Sox books on Sunday, none of which was “Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME 2004.”
That evening, Jose received the following response from Ms. Powers.

Dear Mr Melendez,
I am sure you are correct about the number or lack of it
of Dan Shaughnessy’s fans. If your book is as funny as your letter, I’m sorry I
haven’t seen it or read it or however one goes about taking it in. The Globe
won’t touch self-published books, so I can’t do it in the future, but I’ll look
at your Web site soon for my own entertainment. Carry on! Katherine P.

(Note: Did she mean for this to be published? Who knows? But since Jose is a “journalist” and she didn’t say “off the record” it counts. Sweet.)

It’s a classy response. It rips Dan Shaughnessy; it praises Jose – what’s not to like? Oh yes, the part where it says the Boston Globe won’t touch self-published books. Well, as best Jose recalls, occasional contributors don’t set policy, so the congenial Ms. Powers can hardly be blamed for this. Thus, Jose will go on to the next stop, Christine Chinlund, The Boston Globe Ombudsman.

Dear Ombudsperson,
Hi. This is Jose Melendez. You know, Jose Melendez, blogger, author, pseudonym, third person voice enthusiast. Oh, you don’t know? Well, that probably makes sense, as Jose is merely a self-published author and therefore, does not, according to Globe standards, technically exist. Dan Shaughnessy technically exists, Stewart O’Nan technically exists, heck, even Lou Gorman technically exists. But Jose Melendez? He’s an apparition at best.

But enough hinting, let’s get down to actual context. Jose sent an email to Katherine A. Powers on Sunday, a copy of which is attached below, inquiring as to why she did not review the acclaimed “Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME 2004” in her fine survey of Red Sox books. (Note: Acclaimed, not critically acclaimed. Jose can give you a list of people who have acclaimed it, but, as best he knows, none of them are critics.) Jose was mostly joking, as there was no way Ms. Powers would be familiar with Jose’s book if she was not among the literally scores of people who purchased it. (Note: Or unless she was one of the thousands who has read him on the famous “Internet” at Jose was not really expecting anything out of this exchange except one more day of material for his blog, but then Ms. Powers wrote a response that was not only kind, but informative. She said that even if she had heard of Jose’s book, she couldn’t have reviewed it, as the Globe “won’t touch self-published books.”

At first, Jose took this response with good humor. How could Jose possibly expect his book to be reviewed if it hadn’t been published by a reputable publishing house? After all, publishing houses add so much value to literature and take only a large share of the profits in return. Publishing houses ensure that the contents of a book, such as Jose Canseco’s best seller “Juiced,” are completely true. Publishing houses make certain that each book is well-researched, like each of those quickie O.J. books. Yes, who should we rely on to tell us what is newsworthy if not the publishing houses? Surely not the Boston Globe. And how could Jose possibly expect his book to merit consideration without first squeezing through their well-maintained gate.

So does the Globe really have a policy against reviewing self-published books? If so, thank you. Thank you for saving Jose from a scathing review of his poorly researched, typo-riddled, laugh-a-thon. Thank you for sparing him the embarrassment of having the Globe decline to review his book because it is of questionable merit, seldom read and unavailable in stores. Thank you for allowing him to claim that the only reason it didn’t warrant a review is that it is part of an entire delegitimized class of literature. “Don’t blame Jose for writing a lousy book, blame the Globe for its editorial tyranny!” That’s Jose’s motto now. The excuse soothes the pain. And thank you for doing your efforts to prop up the virtuous and fair publishing industry that gives so little and asks so much.

Seriously. Life is much easier this way. And since Jose’s nifty little volume is tawdry, mean, and factually-suspect, the Herald is probably a more appropriate venue anyway. The review would fit in nicely between the stories on water skiing dogs and the latest flirtation between Brad Pitt and Marjorie Eagen or whoever.
Your pal,
Jose Melendez

P.S. In the event that the Globe has no such policy against reviewing self-published books, sorry about that whole rant. On second though, even if the Globe does have the policy, sorry about the rant.

For today's complete KEYS, check out

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