An (abridged) email I received about "How to Fail":
I wanted to thank you for writing a quality novel. I generally hate to read fiction because most of it is crap. But I liked what you had to say and, for the most part, how you said it. I struggle with the explicit language and sexuality, even though it really isn't much worse than what is implied on regular television (save maybe the f-bombs).I really like the character of Stuart Fish. I think most who are in their late 20s/early 30s can truly resonate with him and his angst (that is a good buzzword, right?). You offer a great social commentary through this book and that is really my attraction to it.
I currently am starting a church in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania and also a dj/entertainer. I have a pretty cynical eye towards the Church and the reality is that hardly anyone in the Church world could very far into your book because of all the language and sexuality. Most of them would see your book at best as some kind of self-pitying/glorification of living a life of sin.
I really appreciate the raw humanity you offer and the pressures of what it means to dream one world while living in reality and all the tension and drama that it causes. The imaginary speech that Stu gives at Bonnie & Brandi's wedding almost brought me to tears because I have fought so much to accomplish so little and I really feel that if I accepted the status quo my life would be "better". I'll spare you the details.
Grace & Peace,
I publish this email, and bold the most pertinent part, because I think some people are confused about the kind of book "How to Fail" is and the kind of audience the book is meant for. I might have been confused myself at one point. I am no longer.
I thought I'd written a book for guys like me. Guys in the 18 to 40 range who live a bit of an arrested development in urban American cities, drinking too much, carousing too much, dreaming far too much. That is true, and 99% of the time those kinda guys love the book. But, so do countless other people:
Women love it. They call it surprisingly sweet.
"Older" people love it. It reminds them of raunchy classics from their era like "Catcher in the Rye."
Teachers and professors love it. They invite me to speak to their students.
Military men and women love it. They bring me to their academies.
Even non-Americans love it. I get e-mails from Canada, the UK, Australia, and even eastern Europe and Asia.
Pretty much everyone seems to love "How to Fail," something I never foresaw.
Why? Because everyone fails, no matter who they are. And, it's nice to know there are other failures out there.
So, if you've enjoyed "How to Fail," yet failed to recommend it to your mother, or your uncle who is a Rabbi, or your teetotaling conservative buddy...why don't you give it a shot? See what happens when you recommend it. I guarantee they'll be skeptical at first (why wouldn't they be?), but I'm also pretty sure they'll read the book and thank you by "THE END."
To my fans who love "How to Fail," do me this favor:
Recommend the book this week to someone in your life who seems completely atypical to the intended audience of "How to Fail." Buy them a copy, gift them a Kindle edition (only $2.99!), or lend them yours--it doesn't matter--just get it in their hands.
Report back here in the next few weeks and let me know how it goes...