Dear Mr. Goldberg

Allow me to express my heartfelt congratulations on your two successful books.  Since I am an illustrator, and it falls within my professional interests, I must profess admiration for the covers of both your books.  The smiley face with the Hitler mustache is iconic and jarring.  Furthermore, the cover’s simple design intertwines nicely with the books academic leanings, but the smiley prevents it from appearing humorless.

The Roman Genn cover is equally provocative and conjures the aesthetic of opinion journalism.  R. Genn is a master of his craft and a fearless caricaturist (I noticed when I went to his site that he’s annoyed some soviet/anarchist hackers, which would be easy for anybody, but for R. Genn it must have been as effortless and natural as breathing).  At any rate, I have nothing but respect for the artistic decisions of Doubleday, RandomHouse, and Penguin.  Indeed, as everyone knows, art directors are second only to the angels.

I notice a few things.  One, Liberal Fascism is academic but softened with irreverence,  whereas the Tyranny of Cliches is irreverence hardened with academics.  Your latest book has as many pop-culture references as the sermon of a nondenominational evangelical youth pastor.  It becomes clear that your nerdy love of C-PAC and your nerdy love of Comic-con are both branches on the same tree.

I can’t imagine this would happen, but if your buddies at the American Enterprise Institute encourage you to write a somber conservative think-tanky book, or if you feel goaded into it by the pompous condescension of the world’s Joe Kleins, I think you ought to resist.  For your third book I think you need to go full nerd.  Don’t do something like this:

Let’s face it, there are a gazillion of these books, and they are read by a very narrow demographic.  Instead, do something like this:

AND… let me do the cover.  The title is a little slapdash, and I assume that you could get Vince Vaughn to give you another quote.  BUT, here’s the deal: Nothing makes a book jump off the shelves of the bookstore like a cover with flaming hands.  I know you know this.  My proposal is simple.  Resist the somber, serious third book.  Continue your blend of serious and silly and go full nerd.  Also … let me do the cover.  Email me when you’re ready.

Sincerely,

Zach Franzen

Sad Stories of the Death of Kings

Some months ago I read Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon.  In one scene there is a flood on a Hollywood set that leaves two women stranded atop the head of a giant idol.  It was such an odd image that it stuck in my head.  I’ve changed the idol to a conquerer’s head and placed it in the ocean.

It reminds me somewhat of this passage from Richard II:

“… let us sit upon the ground

And tell sad stories of the death of kings;

How some have been deposed; some slain in war,

Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;

Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;

All murder’d: for within the hollow crown

That rounds the mortal temples of a king

Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,

Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp, …”