To: My publishers at Simon & Schuster
From: Gene Weingarten
I am writing with good news about a new project of mine.
As you know, my first four books have not exactly sold like hot cakes, which are food items that apparently sell really well even though no one is sure what they are. My point is, whatever that hot-cake mojo is, my books haven’t had it.
All that is about to change.
I am sure you are aware that the newest craze in nonfiction involves tales of children who have died, gone to heaven and then come back to tell their fathers how swell it was there. The fathers write the books, and we buy them like hot cakes. One of these is “Heaven Is for Real.” Another is “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.” The author-dads of these books are, respectively, and this is straight off the book jackets, verbatim: “Todd Burpo” and “Kevin Malarkey.”
A cynic might argue that these books are being marketed to shamelessly exploit people’s hunger for spiritual reassurance in a world where a merciless death awaits us all. I, too, was initially skeptical. But two things happened to change my mind. The first was the moment I saw their sales figures, compared with mine. And the second was, well, frankly ... a miracle.
Last night, I choked to death on a malformed Cheez Doodle. And as it happened, before I returned to life, I, too, got a glimpse of heaven. My new book will be titled, “Heaven Is Even Better Than Those Kids Said.”
This won’t be some copycat book; those two books examined heaven from a child’s perspective, whereas my eyewitness account — while equally inspirational and comforting — is more mature.
And, yes, I know how this deal works. You are not going to send me my seven-figure advance until you get some juicy details. So here they are:
• It’s not Saint Peter standing at the gate, it’s John Lennon, and he asks for your autograph.
• God is Santa Claus!
• The place is not just for good people. Some bad people are there, too. It turns out that when you get to hell, you are given a choice of staying there or going to heaven, but with certain restrictions. This deal is apparently available to all sinners except practitioners of genocide, recidivist child molesters, and televangelists. I actually saw Richard Nixon. He had to walk around like Donald Duck, with a shirt but no pants. He was working as a butler for a family of Hasidic Jews.
• Those Sudanese children from charity commercials tell you that you were right to buy the nicer car.
• The whole place is WiFi accessible except for the bathrooms, which only the bad people still need to use. No paper products: corncobs only.
• There’s a lot of fast-pitch softball. Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth pick you for their side. Cy Young pitches for the other team, but you can see the seams on the ball as it comes toward the plate, as though it’s in slo-mo. You muscle it into the left center field gap for a stand-up double, driving in Jackie Robinson with the winning run. Women seem to have a similar fantasy-fulfillment deal, only it somehow involves Humphrey Bogart, chocolate and shoes that look uncomfortable but aren’t.
• They have hot cakes! They’re great.
Those are some highlights, but there’s plenty more. So, send me the cash, and I will get the full manuscript to you soon. This book will be a gold mine, for all of us. Trust me on this. We’ll all feel as if we’ve died and gone to heaven.