HapiSofi replies to Mat that she has replied over and over again, in far more detail and with far more accuracy than Mat has; and what's more, she's kept track of the arguments, which Mat has utterly and completely failed to do with her arguments, his own arguments, Mac's arguments, Lisa's arguments, Jim's arguments, Birol's arguments ... one could go on, but one needn't.

When Hapi replies directly to Mat, it provokes him to further rounds of reeling and writhing and fainting in coils. When she replies to Mat, but not directly, he doesn't get the jokes.

You know who's under-praised here? Izz, who keeps Very Good Track of arguments. Hurrah for Izz!


It's occurred to me what's really funny about this imbroglio. (Imbroglio: lovely word. And has anyone else noticed Mat's dogwatched vocabulary...? But I digress.) Anyway. What's funny is that Mat's absolutely having kittens over having to deal with a forum full of writers and editors and legal counsel and the like.

Dear God Almighty, why does this man want to be an agent? Has he no sense of self-preservation? To be an agent is to condemn himself to a lifetime of interacting with people just like us, only he won't be able to afford to be rude, or careless with his facts. And you know, some of them will be far more obsessive about the facts than we are.

Mat can't admit he's been wrong. Mat's easy to upset, and when he's upset he stops listening. Mat can't ramp down an argument. Mat can't cope with having people say or imply less than laudatory things about him. It all makes me think he's done less research about agents and their authors than I've done about his notional CV.

Mat, you poor helpless gowk, being called a lying sack of shit barely registers on the agent's seismograph. Authors are vulnerable, imaginative, prone to paranoia, and bitter in their disappointments. Their business agents -- which is where the term comes from -- get the brunt of that. When their relationship breaks down -- and it does, oftener than you might think -- what frequently gets poured down upon the poor agent's head is all the scorn, frustration, and terrifying inventiveness of a professional author who's been terribly disappointed. If you're lucky, you'll hear it over the phone. Less lucky, they'll unburden themselves to their fellow writers, most likely in a bar somewhere. If you're unlucky, it'll see print.

You know the first documentary evidence we have of some phenomenal percentage of the minor Elizabethan playwrights? It's a jointly-written letter of complaint to their agent Philip Henslowe (that fellow played by Geoffrey Rush in Shakespeare in Love who's having his feet held over hot coals in the opening scenes of the movie) because they're all in debtors' prison and they want him to get them out. Henslowe's really the first person in English literature who fulfills the role of an agent, though he had other business interests as well. There are two main sources of information about him: his own records, and his authors' complaints.

I think you need to read the Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes. Seriously. It's all about what life is like in the vicinity of authors. If you want the short version of that description, it's only occasionally like spending a week getting roasted on AW, but it's a lot more like that than any kind of "normal life." It's a terrible thing to say, but we really are a representative sample.