Writers typically try to get their books into as many readers’ hands as possible, but one author has chosen a very different approach. Dolan Morgan’s That’s When the Knives Come Down (Aforementioned Productions, 2014), a short story collection, offers the surreal pre-order option of a “Private event with Dolan in which he burns 300 copies” of the book. If the $10,000 price tag doesn’t scare you off, then you can keep this book from hitting shelves and enjoy a literary bonfire.
And in a cruel twist, you still have to cough up an extra $13 if you want “an undestroyed copy” for yourself.
Some of the other pre-order options bring more standard fare (there’s an option to receive just the book, for example, with no fire required) but other buying options include “two live goats,” and a $500 “lazy arm fight” with the author.
This isn’t Morgan’s first book destruction either. From a listing on Bookforum, we see that he recently headlined an event celebrating an ebook titled Google Place Reviews where “rather than a book release, Dolan…invited four great writers to help him destroy his book and eliminate it from the world forever.” According to Morgan, he “shattered a tablet computer with a hammer” in an attempt to vanquish the digital-only book. It’s no longer available for sale, so perhaps it worked.
Morgan is also listed as a writer for Marina Abramovic Institute’s successful Kickstarter campaign. Perhaps he took inspiration from one of that campaign’s peculiar rewards: $10,000 for nothing.
And this type of surreal offering appears to fit the tone of the book itself. “If any book could compare to a twelve-ring circus with its author in the roles of ringleader, barker and headlining clown,” author Eric Nelson says at Electric Literature, “it would surely be Dolan Morgan’s That’s When the Knives Come Down, a story collection that uses the absurd to show us what truly makes us human…The unparalleled voice of this debut is surely one that will be copied, but not replicated by future writers.”
Would you pay $10,000 to “watch the world burn” …or at least to destroy this one particular author’s work?