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The Sequel

by John Rodat on July 6, 2011

Int. – day. The interview set of morning news program Good Morning, This Morning! The spotlit host, Matt Yip, is a generically handsome man, wearing slacks and a sport coat. He is sitting in a swivel chair.

MY: Good morning, this morning! I’m Matt Yip, and coming up on GMTM! we’ve got the Indignant Minute with Traci Place. We’ll also have a visit from the always-enlightening Len Trippy and his Unexotic Animals. But, first, we’re happy to have with us the author of one of the most talked-about self-helf books of all time, Dr. Baba Guru, whose 2008 book The Revised Self became a cultural phenomenon. And he’s here to talk about his new book!

He swivels to face an identical chair in which sits a slightly rumpled man in a short-sleeve button-down shirt.

MY (con’t): Dr. Baba Guru, welcome and good morning, this morning

BA: Good morning, this . . . uh, thanks, Matt. But It’s Bob Agrew.

MY: I’m sorry?

BA: My name. You said it like “Baa-baa Goo-roo.” It’s Bob. Agrew. Just Bob Agrew.

MY: Oh, OK. It’s written here on the card like . . .  I just thought . . .

BA: I know. It’s OK. It happens a lot.  And I’m not a doctor. Please. Not a doctor, OK?

MY: All right, then.

Matt scribbles on his index card.

MY (cont’d): Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Agrew. Now, Doc . . . Now, Bob, your first book The Revised Self was an incredible success. It promised—and I’m reading here from the book itself, now–“a comprehensive toolkit for the complete dismantling and rebuilding of the psyche.” Wow. Pretty audacious.

BA: Well, yes, but, let’s be very clear, that word “dismantling” was not original and was added by a marketing person who is no longer with my publisher.

MY: Did that marketer, then, also write the description “absolutely the very last self-help book you will ever need”?

BA: No, that was mine.

MY: I ask only because the very existence of your latest book, The (Revised) Revised Self, would seems to call that claim into question.

BA: Well, this isn’t a new book, per se. As the title indicates, and as it says quite clearly in the Lawyers’ Foreword, it’s a revision.

MY: Yes, now, that’s an interesting point: the Lawyers’ Foreword. That’s a publishing convention I’m not familiar with. I’ve skimmed it and it reads a bit like a hold-harmless clause.

BA: Well, no, it’s just that my publisher’s legal counsel happen to be very big fans, and they feel very passionately about my work. It’s only natural they would want to be involved. I’m quite flattered.

MY: But there’s a line for the purchaser to sign . . .

BA: It’s a courtesy bookplate.

MY:  . . . as a condition prior to purchase.

BA: In the Internet age, the savvy author has learned to embrace personalization.

MY: Oh, is the book available in digital format?

BA: No. We couldn’t work out the age-verification. That was a sticking point.

MY: So, tell us, what can readers expect from this revision? It seems some, even many, of chapters are missing have been thinned, or altogether removed. The one on trepanning, for example.

BA: Yes, yes, there is some material that was included in the original for historical context and/or entertainment purposes and/or for consenting adults except in those states and/or areas where forbidden and/or strongly counterindicated by law and/or a physician’s advice, that has been withheld from the revised issue and/or recalled and/or remaindered and/or burned.

MY: I see. So, what, again, will readers find in this revision, aside, that is, from the lengthy Lawyers’ Foreword, which is, I should note, nearly 600 pages?

BA: There’s a fruit smoothie recipe.

MY: And is this, then, the very last self-help your readers will need?

BA: My lord, I certainly hope so.

MY: Thank you so much very being, here, Doct . . . Bob. And good morning, this morning!