Happy April Fool’s Day! Mom and Dad Publishers?

The ubiquitous rejection letter evidently does not exist for children whose parents trade a bag of gold for a self-published book.  In her article for the New York Times – Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad)  – Elissa Gootman chronicles the literary accomplishments of young teen and pre-teen authors whose parents are happily adding another line to Junior’s list of accomplishments for college entrance committees.

“… a growing number of self-publishing companies whose books can be sold online have inspired writers of all ages to by-pass the traditional gatekeeping system for determining who could call themselves a ‘published author.’   They include hundreds of children and teenagers…{raising} as many questions about parenting as publishing…”

Whatever happened to artistic angst? perseverance? editing?  Are life experiences no longer needed?  One self-published book by a 12-year-old tells the story of a 72-year-old in a fantasy world.

And when did writing become a team sport – or effort? A parent is quoted as proud that through self-publishing, his son “kind of joined a team…this is {his} basketball.”

Who buys these books?  Social media certainly spreads the news, and even “real” publishers expect their new authors to hawk their books to friends and family.  Books can become Christmas presents or “free” to anyone willing to deplete the stack of books in the basement.  But some young authors have an audience and a publisher – Justin Bieber already has 2 memoirs. He’s 18 years old;  imagine the possibilities.

Like the new branding of sunscreen that now must include the words “broad spectrum” to qualify as actually being effective, “published authors” may need to add the words – “not by self ” to their descriptor.


In a funny confrontation between two “wild and crazy guys,” Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel will have you thinking they are the Lunatics in their namesake novel. In spite of myself, I ended almost every chapter laughing out loud.

Taking turns being idiotic, each author alternates writing chapters as Philip, the happy owner of a pet store called “The Wine Shop,” and Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, angry at the world for getting in his way. Of course, their paths cross.  In a ridiculous sequence of random events that innocently starts with a soccer game, the two become embroiled in a series of mishaps that has them chased by the police, terrorists, bears, and pirates.  They almost destroy the world, and then put it back together in better shape than before their exploits.

The language can be crude and insensitive; think Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. If you don’t like your laughs rough and bawdy, or if you are a Prius driver, this book may not be for you.   On the other hand, if you are thinking about taking one of those new cultural vacations to Cuba, you might want to read the book before you go.  Both authors get carried away, and the side bars – although funny – seem to run-on, but if you decide to skip through some of it, be sure to check out the Republican National Convention at the end (if you are a Republican, you may not be as amused).

Lunatics is quick silly diversion; I wondered which author wrote each character (in an NPR interview, Dave Barry admits to being the forensic plumber), but I knew they must have had fun writing their plotless wonder together.