Dear Joseph (we’re both adults, so I can call you by your first name),

I regret to inform you that we cannot accept your book Heart of Darkness for publication. I loved how short it was, but I hated how dumb it was.

Your story makes no sense. Marlow—is that a first name? Last name? Beyoncé situation?—spends the whole time being like, “Oh no, it keeps getting darker as I go down this boring-ass river, which I could have predicted because I’m going toward a place literally called the heart of darkness.”

Just turn around and go home, dude! It’s not like you went to Great Wall Szechuan with your gorgeous daughter and your loser boyfriend, Gary, and you and Dani got in a fight in front of Jake with the great bangs, and then you read the same fortune cookie at the same time just as lightning struck the restaurant, which made you switch bodies and now you’re stuck. That’s a real problem with some actual stakes. And as my shining daughter’s English teacher, Mrs. Dotmore, always says, without stakes, a story is just a bore-y. Mrs. Dotmore has six cats.

Take this stupid quote of yours that, for some reason, people seem to be into: “We live, as we dream—alone.” You have got to be kidding me. Everywhere my righteous daughter tries to go, I’m there. Dani is trying to listen to music in her room? I need to put away laundry right now. Dani is at soccer practice? Better yell at her to get into our busted Toyota RAV4 rather than just letting her get a ride with Courtney, who has her license and drives her mom’s Tesla. Dani is trying to chat about the existential threat of climate change with Jake, who did I mention plays the bass? Better text her literally a million times about the B-minus Mrs. Dotmore gave her last paper for “not having enough adjectives,” which was diabolical, unconstitutional, and bitchass. Dude, Marlow—being alone is the dream.

Joe, want to know what the actual heart of darkness is? Menopause. Jesus, Joey. The horror! The horror! I’m sweating, and then I’m freezing, and then I’m angry, and then I want to punch a wall and have my hair stroked by someone named Mark Harmon. WHO THE FUCK IS MARK HARMON? I honestly now get why I’m such a dick all the time to my opalescent daughter. Mrs. Dotmore gave Dani’s second-to-last paper a C for “incongruous use of adjectives.” What a fibrous jagweed.

I know that I’ve mentioned Dani a bunch. But I kind of have to, because your dumbass book comes nowhere near passing the Bechdel test. I get you were born in 1857, but this is all some white cis-het bullshit. Also, are you serious with how you talk about Black people? I mean, cannibals, seriously? It’s not the olden days anymore. It’s not 1995. Mrs. Dotmore made my incandescent daughter read Chinua Achebe, and that dude gets it. I think Mrs. Dotmore is married to a ficus.

See, while I often use words like “ungrateful,” “naïve,” and “in need of a new haircut that doesn’t hide her beautiful eyes” to describe my bodacious daughter, I also know that Dani just wants me to understand, without her ever having to say it out loud, that she actually listens to a bunch of the crap I say. She knows deep down that college boys will be way more interesting than Jake and his tattoo that says “keep calm and eat vegan” in Arabic, and she knows that—unlike your dumbass Kurtz, whose toxic masculinity made him, like, imperialize a bunch of people—I’m actually kind of a role model for girls like my impeccable daughter who want to claim their power and be their own boss. Though I’m not a role model in the boyfriend department. Gary suuuuuucks.

This is the concluding paragraph. I am telling you this because Mrs. Dotmore, who just won the Powerball and is stupidly staying at her job “for the children,” told my incomparable daughter she was getting a C-minus on her next paper for lack of topic sentences. So, here’s another topic sentence for you: I did not like your book, because it sucked butt.

Bitchily yours,
Laura Hatcher, Senior Editor at Some Random House