Adventures in Marketing: Week 123

A satisfied “Cheesesteak” reader (“Overall, I enjoyed it very much…”) advises he has ordered a copy for his writer-son. He did, however, note objection to my use of the word “Faggot” in the title of one of my pieces, and he posed several questions. For most of these (“Why did you not write more about your brother?” “Will there be a sequel?” “Why did you go to Brandeis?”) I had answers ready with which to parry, slip-and-move. But one landed on my jaw.
Why, he asked, did I end the book with an old, lost friend asking by phone, “This Spruce Hill Bob?”
I thought, I did what?
Didn’t I go on for a sentence or two? Didn’t the phrase “If anyone had told me…” begin one of those sentences?
If “Cheesesteak” ended as my reader said, had the printer missed the sentences which followed, and had I failed to catch its error? Or had I omitted the sentences from the pdf I sent the printer? Either way, the fault was mine, and I felt humiliated. I considered denying a mistake had been made, saying the ending was intended, and providing justifications for it. It provided an openness, I would say. It implied a renewal or new beginning.
Dreading what I would find, I opened a copy of “Cheesesteak.”
The reader was correct.
I went to my Documents file. I opened “Cheesesteak.” The ending was as printed.
Then I searched for the phrase “had told me.” It was there – but seven lines earlier.
So the reasons I had just come up with for this ending must have been the reasons that moved me two years before when I finished the book but, when confronted by my reader’s question, had forgotten.
In a week when 36-year-old memories (which, by the way, I do not doubt) are the focus of much attention, I find this experience of interest.