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Friday, March 07, 2008

Contemporary book vetting.

"Hello, Uzayr? Yes, this is Ted Sorrento at Imagination Books. Sorry to bother you the day before your first book tour, but I need to touch base on a couple of things that have come up. Do you have moment?"


"Getting right to the nub: some researchers have made frankly stunning claims that some of the claims in your memoir aren' should I say this? 'Fully correlated to the demonstrable facts'? Yes, I'll go with that. They are going so far as to call From Titicaca to Tawhid: A Latino-Muslim Journey 'utterly fictitious.'"

"Ummm.......yes, that would be a 'problem.'"

"'Which facts'?"

"Starting at the beginning, really:

1. That you weren't born Xochimilco Fuentes, a Quechua-speaking poor child born and raised on one of the artificial Uros islands in Lake Titicaca.

2. That your mother wasn't killed while working for an oppressive right-wing landowner/death squad leader in a tragic-yet-avoidable gardening accident involving a dangerously over-stacked compost pile.

3. That, orphaned by your absent father who had returned to Mexico, you weren't taken in by your "Uncle Ernesto the Scabrous" who taught you how to be a teenaged lake pirate.

4. That you never, in fact, were a pirate of any kind.

5. That you aren't, courtesy of your father, the illegitimate younger half-brother of Commandante Marcos, head of the Zapatero rebels in Mexico.

6. That you didn't sign on with said rebels following your Titicaca buccaneering, joining your dashing masked half-brother in adventures against the oppressive criollo landlords, leaving twin marks of 'M' and 'X' with your sabres on the walls of their haciendas as you made off with their ill-gotten gains.

7. That you didn't in fact rescue a busload of 'very grateful and energetically affectionate' college girls aged 18-22 on their way back from a Victoria's Secret show in Cancun from a gang of short, pudgy capitalist oppressors.

Yes, certainly, that's one of my favorites, too. But I'm not done, alas."

"8. That you weren't indeed later captured on a solo adventure by a band of inbred Aztec polytheists who nearly sacrificed you to their dark gods before you made a daring escape.

9. That you did not, chastened by that shocking experience, begin to question the meaning of life and take up a job bouncing at El Cabron Grande, a run-down oceanside bar in Veracruz.

10. That you did not meet your mentor while working there, a hard-drinking, short-tempered but good hearted Sunni Imam named Sheikh Ali Yurbouti.

11. That he did not teach you 'the meaning of life,' 'the glorious truths of Islam' and how to properly wield a katana while working there.

12. That Sheikh Yurbouti was not killed by the surviving inbred Aztecs who were hunting you down in a vengeful determination to finish their sacrifice.

13. That you did not then, in a grief-stricken berserk rage, strike down the 'vile kufr' who had murdered your beloved mentor in a 'hurricane of flashing steel, flying severed limbs and spurting neck-stumps.'

14. That you did not then, numbed by loss, 'wander the earth like Caine in Kung-Fu,' until you came to Detroit, Michigan and decided to build a mosque in his memory, where you remain as imam to this day, this time 'battling the new inbred Aztecs of hate and prejudice.'"

"In fact, some have argued, citing photographic and documentary evidence, that you are instead

1. Danny O'Herlihy, a lifelong Michigander, Chrysler production worker, husband and father of two who's never been south of the Texas panhandle and who acquired his knowledge of many of the details in his 'memoir' from Wikipedia."

2. That both your parents are still happily married after 36 years, retired and living in Boca Raton during the winter months.

3. That you are currently a semi-lapsed Methodist who attends Christmas and Easter services.

4. That your knowledge of Islam comes from a Comparative Religions class you took at Macomb Community College in 2003.

5. That your knowledge of piracy is entirely derived from the Pirates of the Caribbean oeuvre, both films and Disney World ride.

6. That your knowledge of swordplay comes from dueling your younger brothers with light sabers your parents bought you from Kenner while growing up."

"Really, Uzayr, I'm going to have to stop at this point. It's getting a little dismaying, to be candid. Now can you verify any events or provide supporting documentation?"

"You submitted the book with a note that it 'contained dramatic embellishment.'


Ah.....well, yes, there is a barely-legible note to that effect. But that really wasn't the question. I'm looking for supp--"

"Oh, your wife's brother-in-law is a Mexican? But you call him 'Spanish' out of respect? Keep going--that's a start."

"'Sings great covers of Feliz Navidad and Freddy Fender tunes'?"

"You 'own a sombrero' and 'played football with a couple of Mexicans in high school'? Great--were they oppressed by any chance? 'Both started.' One was 'All-State, Class B.' No, not particularly oppressed at all."

"What about the Islamic stuff? 'Sometimes read Jihadwatch.' Let's keep that one under our hats--CAIR has been mostly positive about the book."

"'Know a couple of guys from Bangladesh on the assembly line--nice guys, good workers, pretty shy, don't speak a lot of English.'"

"'Know a bunch of Mexicans at the plant--pretty good guys.'"

"I think I have enough to get the picture, Mr. O'Herlihy. We here at Imagination are left with little choice.

I'm going to have ask you to bring your Bengali and Mexican friends to the signing on next Monday. Paint a crescent on your sombrero and make sure your co-workers don't say anything.

See you then, Imam Fuentes."

Further inspiration here, here and here.

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