Peter May, long-time writer of clever, witty, hard-hitting, little-read satire, was recently offered a chance at great financial success, but opted instead to stay true to his art - and broke.
May’s fabulous professional opportunity came in the form of Betty Wilder, an extremely wealthy and connected woman, who moves in the most elite social circles of New York City. Wilder, a lover of literature and especially of satire, had become highly familiar with May’s work, to the point where reading his pieces had become a self-described "morbid obsession.”
She tracked down May and told him. ‘Your puns are incessant and strained, your wit so ostentatiously dry that it cracks. At best, your stories are self-righteous and didactic, and touch on important subjects that people like myself would really prefer not to think about. At worst, they’re boring, painfully contrived, and/or just plain silly (but not funny).”
She added, “Stylistically, you use far too many adverbs, quotation marks, commas, parentheses, hyphens, run-on sentences, semi-colons, exclamation points, and rhetorical questions – oh, and the puns! Have I mentioned the puns?”
She concluded, “As an artist, you have a precious gift that you can offer the world: stop writing satire. The world may not be the better off for it, but it will be much more pleasant to live in.”
As an added incentive, Wilder presented to May the largest sum of money he’d ever been offered with regard to his writing: a signed check for one million dollars.
May accepted the check – and tore it to shreds before Wilder's eyes. “Thank you for ‘checking’ in,” he told her, “but you will never present any ‘check’ on my behavior. I am of a ‘write’ mind, and I will persist both in writing and in 'righting' - doing my utmost to correct societal wrongs through my transparently agenda-oriented work.”
He finished by telling her, "Go vegan!"