11/13/2003

Cover Letter

Dear Editor,

Please accept the enclosed story for publication in your fine review. I trust you’ll find its coming-of-age themes as timeless as the eloquence of its tastefully understated prose. It’s just the kind of thing I know you’ve been searching for, through all these barren years.

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself looking at my name and mumbling quietly: Garth Risk who? Who Risk Hallberg? I don’t take these things personally and, after all, you’ve never been good with names. A brief précis of my accomplishments is sure to refresh your memory.

I have published numerous stories in all the best places: The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Hobo Quarterly. You name it, I’ve published in it. In 2002, I appeared on over 100 critics’ end-of-year top 10 lists—perhaps you remember me from them. Or maybe you read my story “Of Love and Dogs…and Love” in the 2001 Best American Short Stories, which I happened to be guest editing at the time. Winning the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner in the same year will really open some doors, let me tell you. But if you come to my house, you won’t see those gaudy trophies, or my Pulitzer, or the plaque I got for being MVP of the West Regional Finals; I’m a firm believer in the constitutional separation of success and my head. Did I mention my Booker?

While we’re on the topic of the United Kingdom, I feel that I would be remiss not to inform you that I hold the distinction of being the only North Carolingia ever to appear in Granta’s “Best of the Young British Novelists.” My accent can be pretty convincing. I recently completed the old “quintuple crown” with my Nobel Prize—in chemistry (natch)—making me the first gelding to do so since 1922. Susan Sontag has hailed me as “visionary,” John Updike as “a staggering genius.” Philip Roth emails me when he has the little crises of confidence that have made him the butt of so many of the jokes Suzie and John and I share in our weekly conference calls. (“Keep it small, Phil,” I tell him. “Keep it funny”). But enough tooting my own horn—I am nothing if not modest. At least, that’s what my dear, dear friend the Pope tells me.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at the above address, where I reside when I’m not off negotiating ceasefires. Or see my collected works (10 vol., Cambridge U.P.) The critical essays gathered in The Cambridge Companion to Garth Risk Hallberg are also considered an indispensable source of information about me, and my canon. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward, with quiet confidence, to hearing from you soon.

Yours,
Garth Risk Hallberg