The Book I Will Write #55: A Man in a Muumuu Believes He Can Fly

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 at the library following a kidnapping episode with The Zeppelin Society. Now he’s being stalked by the murderous son of Reid Markham, the author of The Devil’s Good Graces, a book Fleming is trying to track down and read as an influence to his own, still unwritten, novel. Annie, the editorial assistant, has been filling in at Knopf while her boss, Roberta Hollymore, is in jail for drunk and disorderly conduct.


Mary Ann “Annie” Lankowski
Interim Senior Editor
Knopf Publishing


Dear Annie,

I can’t write for long—I think someone is trying to kill me.

I promise you I didn’t date Ms. Hollymore. Please believe me, for the sake of everything we might have meant to each other, had we once had or were we to someday have a relationship.

The good news is that the ideas for my novel are coming fast. Late night in the storage closet the blackness is so deep and wide my thoughts have space to clasp hands and raise each other up into extra-dimensional structures I’d never imagined possible, the way cheerleaders might if they had magic pom-poms and advanced knowledge of theoretical astrophysics.

Scattered images and lines arrive like gifts. I write them down. One day they’ll form a whole, and the whole will be my novel. Here are just a few:

  • A Mexican standoff: “You’ve got to ask yourself if that sad excuse for a vegetable still flies true.”
  • Another poisoned magistrate with rigor mortis; the shape of his mouth reveals his last word.
  • A Trojan Moai?: “Does that mean you volunteer, soldier?”
  • MJ: “I’ve done my last moonwalk. My life now is walking the earth.”
  • “We, the undersigned, care nothing for the poor.”
  • “It’s not just plains that are windswept, my love.”
  • A man in a muumuu believes he can fly. He can.

More later. I need to get off of this library computer. It’s too open. A new patron arrived today. I don’t trust him. He’s a lingerer. I’ve caught him staring at me through the stacks. I can’t locate him at the moment, and I didn’t see him leave. I’m afraid he’s the one I haven’t told you about. The one who wants me dead.

My deepest fear is that I’ll die before I get this novel written. Also, I don’t want to die.

I may have to leave the library for a while. I don’t know if I’ll have internet access. I’ll write when I can!

Still Yours,

John Henry Fleming