Friday, January 13, 2012

Undocumented Workers Wrote "Atlas Shrugged" - By Ayn Rand

This is the second in a series of documents which Ayn Rand instructed her lawyer to release after her death. They comprise an account, in her own words, of her remarkable career. The first document can be found here.

Ronnie Hubbard and I broke up. I heard he was somewhere writing these bad pulp stories full of spies and detectives and women getting their shirt-buttons popped off by aliens. He was cranking out a book every week, someone told me. That seemed crazy, impossible. But I didn't think much about it. I didn't have a reason to contact him... until after that meeting with my publisher. Until the man told me that Fountainhead was really taking off, but they needed a follow-up.

"It's gotta be a telephone book," the publisher said, "something so huge and dense and packed with insanity that you could throw a loopy economics dissertation in the middle of it, and it wouldn't make a difference."

"This is your life's work, we tell them," he continued, two little tabs of spit in the corners of his mouth. "This is what you've been typing in a little shack in the mountains for 10 years, only it's so far ahead of its time you were too scared to show it to anyone. It's the book that will make all your batshit readers think they've got the whole secret to the universe locked up in their skulls because they managed to make their way through it to the end. And there's got to be sex."

"Sex?"

"Some kind of romance. Only it can't be normal, you understand. There's got to be something so wrong about the love story in this thing, it reads like a psychological test they give you to see if you're hiding dead hookers in your basement. Please, please, please tell me you can write a book like this."

"I already have."

It was a complete lie. I had nothing. I hadn't the slightest idea how I'd produce this book. But I swear to you, that obese middle-aged man gave a squeal like a five year-old girl finding a fucking pony in her backyard on Christmas morning. And then I knew I had to deliver.

Two weeks, and a mountain of Benzedrine tablets later, I still had nothing. I was filthy and covered in sweat. I hadn't slept in so long my head felt packed with cotton. The words wouldn't come. And I thought of that ugly, terrible man who'd gotten into this mess. That complete fake and lunatic who was out there somewhere, typing novel after novel and laughing at me. I looked up a few mutual friends, tracked him down, and called him. I knew I'd regret it. I didn't know how much.

"I'll send a car 'round," he said, chuckling darkly. "I know exactly how to fix this. But you must promise that you will not reveal my secret." If you're reading this, you know I broke that promise. But I had to. Some things need to come out into the light.

A dark limousine drove me to the waterfront section of Hoboken, and I boarded a massive freighter covered in dirt and rust. The smell of heavy oil and human sweat wrapped me like a wet cloth. Hubbard was waiting down in the dark of the hull, his eyes glinting like Satan. He was dressed in some kind of weird nautical costume with crazy ribbons and medals all over his chest and shoulders. He took my hand, and led me to a cavernous space in the depths of the ship where dozens of people sat at rows upon rows of desks. They looked weak, exhausted. They were all wearing the same kind of nautical costume as Hubbard himself - as if he'd recruited them for his private navy. And they were typing furiously.

"Listen," he said, "You have to pretend we're at sea. They think they're in international waters, and I can do anything to them."

"This is... horrible."

"I know," he said, grinning. "Isn't it perfect? I find people kicked out of Ellis Island, scoop them up, and pack them off here. The uniforms, the closed space, the constant work... it just makes people malleable. They're putty. They've written two dozen books for me so far, and... Excuse me --"

"Elizabeta!" he screamed down at an old woman who'd stopped typing, and was rubbing her gnarled hands. "Elizabeta! If you don't finish that fucking chapter, you won't ever get clear. And then I will ship your ass back to Szeged, you bitch!"

"Clear?"

"It's a term we use. Listen, if you want I could lend them to you. They work like bastards, and they write better English than most Americans."

"What's the catch?"

"Same as always," he said, with that disgusting smile.

"I don't think of you that way."

"Your call," he said. But of course I took him up on the offer. Over the next few weeks, I had the workers reading everything they could get their hands on: Nietzsche, Dale Carnegie, a few pornographic pulp novels, and a biography of John Rockefeller -- I wanted them to have access to every stupid, selfish idea rattling around in the head of the average American executive. I wanted them to channel the id of every sociopath in a cheap suit who thinks God put him on the earth to screw people on bad real estate. They produced hundreds of pages. And at night Ronnie and I did terrible, squalid things to each other. I will never be able to hear someone say "Prepare to board!" without shuddering.

Soon I had a manuscript. But something was missing.

"None of the characters really stand out," I told Ronnie, while we lay in his captain's quarters, surrounded by piles of paper. "I need someone who ties this whole book together."

"What do you expect?" he asked. "I'm paying these people in cups of rice for chrissake."

"I know," I said. "But that's just it. I need to talk to someone else. Someone who actually believes this kind of crap. A winner. Not some desperately poor..."

But Ronnie wasn't listening. He stood up, his dimpled ass sheened in sweat and matted hair, and walked to his private desk. He dialed a number on his phone, talked a bit, and then motioned me over to take the receiver.

"I think I can help you," said a voice on the other end. "My name is John Galt."

CONTINUED HERE

(Note: If you enjoyed this, you should know that I began my career as a desperate magazine writer and low-level scrub at the now-defunct Mademoiselle. My novella, The Big Money, is a funny, fictionalized account of my experiences, and it's available for your Kindle or your Nook for 99 cents.

It features sexual fantasy sequences, World War II trivia, drunkenness, betrayal, murderous rages, the Spider Demon at the end of
Doom, and a weird love story involving cat-sitting. It is loosely based on the truth. And when I say "loosely" I mean that it is true in the emotional, but not legally actionable sense.)

9 comments:

  1. I was linked to this blog by Fred Clark (Slacktivist) for the first of these. I stayed and devoured your archives. Your style is very enjoyable to read and more than once on your dark, twisty tales I finished and went... 'woah.'

    Anyway, just wanted to say I'm glad I got here at all and plan to stay!

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  2. DALE CARNEGIE?!?!?!?

    Jeebus H. Christ in a hand cart!

    Sweet sweating Jeebus, please do keep this up.

    JzB

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for that. I will continue until Tom Cruise shuts me down!

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  3. Please, please, when can we get part 3?? I'm salivating dude. Fucking hilarious.

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  4. Very well done, but far too well written to be believed as something that Ayn Rand penned herself...

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  5. I love it! This could have been put together by the late, great Hunter S. Thompson himself, with a little help from Douglas Adams.

    Can't wait for the next installment :-)

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