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How I Started a Literary Journal with Arnold Palmer

In Fiction on April 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Dear Arnold Palmer,

Sorry to bother you, but I have a few questions. I was hoping you could help me. I’m a journalist writing about your upcoming PGA tour event presented by MasterCard: the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, held at Bay Hill, March 25th-28th. Well, I was wondering whether Tiger Woods will be in attendance. I hear he’s playing at The Masters the following week. Can you tell me ‘off the record’ if Tiger will make an appearance at your tournament? I will not quote my sources. I promise to protect your anonymity. I often don’t know anything about the courses I write about, but I research the hell out of them. Anyway, I’m a big fan of your work. The drink is great. Lemonade and iced-tea in one; who’da thunk it? And that new ESPN commercial; good stuff. I’m trying to promote the tournament for some golf publications and any Tiger update or insider news might help. Is there anything you would like to tell me, Mr. Palmer?

It’s Saturday morning in Cabo San Lucas. My W-9 tax return says I earned almost two thousand dollars in 2009 from writing about golf courses. I would write about yours for free, Arnold, and have done so in the past. I always say the nicest things about your courses. Can I call you Arnold? Is there anything I can do for you? Is there something you want to say – a message to your fans or the people in attendance? Tiger has won the tournament six times already; the last two years; more than any other player. I do research. Don’t need to smell the grass on the course; I would rather smoke it, write about golf. I’m not asking for atonement. I try to write unusual golf and restaurant reviews. They get accepted. Like bad poetry. Except for that one called Family Thanksgiving, about my Grandma falling in Mexico and hitting her head and her stupid children not catching her. That one gets rejected all the time. I stopped submitting it. Save it for the collection to be published after my death.

Anyway Arnold, I want to get your message out about the tournament. Not the agents and the board of directors, but the man who has shaped golf like no other. With Tiger’s indiscretions and the mirage of his morality crumbling like Egyptian pyramids in an earthquake, you are again in a league of your own, like Madonna and Lady Gaga on the same stage. What would you like those attending the event to know? What should they expect? What separates this tour event from all others? Will Tiger make his highly anticipated return in his home state to shape up for The Masters? If you don’t answer me, should I assume your silence means that Tiger will play? Should I be the first golf journalist to break this news to the media? Will his image recover? Odds makers have Tiger’s appearance at 4-6. Bettors are predicting his victory. Forget what the agents and publicity people say. They only care about money and famous people. Media whores. Literary agents who are too damn busy to read past the first sentence of my query letter. They know my manuscript sucks. 74,000 words of narrative non-fiction garbage, like the 63,000 words of literary fiction, the 43,000 word novella, the other 61,000 word collaborative manuscript, and all the rest. Fuck them. The first three chapters are too much to ask? Is it too difficult, like drinking only one sip of an Arnold Palmer? Like Tiger Woods only taking one mistress? What the hell is the world coming to? Earthquakes and fancy Manhattan agents not appreciating fine writing, prologues with alliteration and consonance like: masturbated in the bottom bunk and blew thirty milligrams of Ritalin to get ready? I guess a famous fifty-something female agent might be disgusted, but Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity top the best seller lists for non-fiction? That’s why I look for the pretty twenty-somethings, the new agents who went to boarding school and understand. But screw them, Arnold. Let’s talk about the tournament – is Tiger playing? Is there something worth saying to me? I’ll print whatever you want, Arnold. I’m a well-respected golf writer and restaurant critic. How can I write fiction with all these distractions? Why did I write an 88,000 word memoir in three weeks without spell check? Will Tiger return in three weeks? Am I supposed to write flash fiction and bad poetry for the rest of my life, and never get my name mentioned with other authors published in the same issue of online magazines and lit journals? Get rejected by editors three dozen times before I begin to wonder whether my writing sucks? Whether they hate me for something I said? Do I look peculiar to them? Do I smell bad; like hot dogs on a full stomach? Can I get you a hot dog, Arnold? Would you like mustard, mayonnaise, tomatoes, diced onions, and ketchup on that? In Mexico, we roll our dogs in bacon. Maybe I need to start a literary journal. Then they’ll at least send personal rejections. How about a journal about golfing? Will you considering editing this journal with me? Can I at least use your name, Arnold? Can we name our new journal: Tiger Tales? Then they will accept my poems; those stories they address with form letters: please wait at least a few weeks before submitting again because your writing sucks. Your manuscripts suck. The only one who wants to read it is your grandmother. She just emailed you now, when you’re writing this letter to the greatest golfer who ever lived about an article due by Monday – 48 hours from now – for a sport you haven’t played in more than a decade; since your grandfather was alive; he taught you when you were five. How can you concentrate when your Grandma apologizes for not writing because she was in the hospital, hit her head, and is in the care unit? She wants to read some of your latest work. Where are the best sellers? Why is it mostly the absurdist garbage you get published, making a shitty living selling something you’re too ashamed to show a 91 year old woman or anyone in your family? What are you gonna do: write another poem about it? You have nothing to show for it. You are an expatriate in Mexico for more than five years; an insignificant illegal immigrant living in a third world country who hasn’t spent more than a few weeks in the United States in half a decade. You have no money, no health insurance, no best sellers, no respect in publishing, no degrees or credentials; you don’t do anything other than cook hot dogs and wheel the hot dog stand down the damn street. Your 91 year old grandmother loves Arnold Palmer, and then I ask you Arnold: is there something you want to say to your fans? I need to write about the tournament.

Cheers,
Don Mateo

Matthew Dexter lives and writes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He tolerates long walks on the beach, but hates sand between his toes. Find more of his work at Quesadillas de Marlin Ahumado

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  1. Tiger has got nothing on Arnie. nicely done.

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