The Book I Will Write by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. THE BOOK I WILL WRITE is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment and is living in the library. In this episode, Fleming gets an unexpected email from a little-known organization.
THE ZEPPELIN SOCIETY
Dear John Henry Fleming,
Congratulations! You have been nominated for membership in The Zeppelin Society, an exclusive non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of the zeppelin as a safe, elegant, modern mode of luxury travel.
You may have some of the following questions:
• Who nominated me? Nominations to The Zeppelin Society are made by anonymous sponsors. Your sponsor is most likely a friend, neighbor, or colleague familiar with your interest in zeppelins, or someone who has good reason to believe you can appreciate these marvels of the sky. If you join The Zeppelin Society, your sponsor will be notified and may choose to come forward and congratulate you. If not, you’ll have fun guessing your sponsor’s identity!
• Does The Zeppelin Society cost money to join? We are currently running a membership drive that allows new members to pay half-price dues their first year. That’s only $450!
• What do I get in return? As a new member of The Zeppelin Society, you’ll receive a membership card with your Zeppelin Society ID #, a certificate suitable for framing, and a mini-poster of one of three classic airships, the Graf Zeppelin, the U.S.S. Los Angeles, and the Hindenburg. Best of all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to the dawn of a new era of air travel, and when the zeppelins return to the skies, you’ll have Priority Status on reservations! Imagine taking the first commercial flight of a sleek and spacious new zeppelin with luxury accommodations and a window on the clouds! Imagine dipping low over the waves on your transatlantic flight to watch dolphins at play and whales surface for air!
• Where does my money go? Your yearly dues sponsor research and design competitions for the development of new zeppelin technology. For instance, the theme of last year’s design competition was Utensils! Utensils! Utensils! and the $900 grand prize winner produced a set of lightweight, blunt-edged, eco-friendly silverware made entirely of recycled elephant dung and ideally suited for long-distance zeppelin travel. We bet you didn’t know that The Zeppelin Society also owns and operates the only zeppelin museum in the United States. A portion of our donations goes toward museum operations and acquisitions and toward the creation of a permanent and more visible home for the museum and Zeppelin Society headquarters. Should you choose to make a donation over and above your yearly dues, you may specify which of our programs you would like to help fund.
We hope you will not let your sponsor down but will instead take advantage of this limited-time opportunity to join The Zeppelin Society at half-price. We have reserved the following Zeppelin Society ID # in your name:
If you have any questions, please reply to this email or come visit us in person at The Zeppelin Society Museum and Headquarters in Lakehurst, New Jersey. If you have no questions, why not join today?! You may remit your first-year’s dues to the address below and make checks out to The Zeppelin Society. Then don’t forget to check the mail daily for your Zeppelin Society welcome package!
Yours in the Air,
President, The Zeppelin Society
The Zeppelin Society Museum and Headquarters
223-B Warehouse Row 72
Lakehurst Industrial Park
Industrial Park Drive
Lakehurst, NJ 08733
“I’ve been dazed and confused so long it’s not true.”
What an unexpected twist? I can’t wait to learn more about the identity of the Zeppelin Man and his possible (if not probable) connection to the missing copy of The Devil’s Good Graces.
Also, having been in a number of libraries (as a customer and an occasional occupant), I know they’re teeming with aspiring writers. Could John Henry Fleming fall in with a writing group composed of people who never write? Or worse, a writing group of poets and memoir writers? Looking forward to the continuing unfolding of the saga.
Thanks, Jonny–good idea about the writing group. Maybe a group of retirees working on their memoirs? We’ll see if I can work it in.
And Tremaine, thanks for the Zep I reference. Time for Jimmy Page to break out the violin bow. For the soundtrack, that is. Of the movie based on this book. The film rights to which I’m now fielding offers on.