They were standing on the lawn and the driveway. He thought he saw some sneaking around the side of the house. They were chanting something. He hesitated to ask his wife what it was. It sounded like “Kill, kill, kill the book.” And were those staves they were waving? They looked like staves. Where the hell did they get staves? Not at the Home Depot. He couldn’t understand their level of outrage. Their faces were distorted with a mixture of anger, hate, fear, and disgust. All he’d done was write a book. OK, so it wasn’t the greatest book ever written. It wasn’t The Red and the Black (which, come to think of it, wasn’t the greatest book ever written either). But it was the best he could do at the time. It had taken two years of his life. He had sacrificed sleep and peace of mind to it. He had drawn on all the words he knew, blunt Anglo-Saxon words and sleek, elegant Latinate words, too. “Why?” he asked as he stared out the window at the growing crowd. “Why?” Although it was clearly a rhetorical question, his wife attempted to answer it. “Because,” she said, “life is too short to read a bad book.” She brushed a tear from her eye and added, “Especially a long one.”
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of seven poetry chapbooks, including Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks in print and The Torturer’s Horse (2009) from Recycled Karma Press online. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.