Day 1: Write Your Own Obituary
For the July Blog Challenge, the Day 1 challenge is Write Your Own Obituary. At first, I figured this task would be a bit daunting. Not that I would find this morbid, just daunting. How could I possibly write about myself in future tense? But I quickly got into the swing of things, and I found this to be a fun exercise.
Also, the obit is a sneak peak into another work-in-progress.
I wrote this obit in the style the New York Times would employ. Enjoy!
Cult author Gus Sanchez, whose satirical novels often skewered everything from corporations to politics to book publishing trends, died in his sleep after a lengthy battle with ennui and his own self-importance. It was said that much like the Velvet Underground, many people didn’t read Mr. Sanchez’s novels, but those who did read his novels were later inspired to become novelists of their own. In later interviews, Mr. Sanchez was said to be delighted that he was able to inspire a new generation of novelists to embrace satire, even if, as he said in a now-infamous Playboy interview, “a lot of those kids who cribbed my style never bothered to buy my work, since all they ever did was go on Pirate Bay and steal my books. The little thieves. I should sue every one of them for royalties!”
Born in New York City in 1971 to a degenerate gambler and Marxist-quoting heiress, Mr. Sanchez was a bright student who excelled in creative writing and being teased mercilessly. His first published short story, about an exploding hamster, appearing in his elementary school’s yearbook, resulting in the first time a yearbook was ever banned after publication by the New York City Board of Education; the story, entitled, “And the Horse You Rode In On,” contained graphic depictions of playground violence and sadism. The use of childhood games as a metaphor for adult aggression would be a recurring theme in Mr. Sanchez’s later works.
After fumbling through high school and college, and through much of adulthood, making abortive attempts at creative writing, Mr. Sanchez completed his first novel, “The World’s Greatest Superhero,” in 2014. While not a commercial success, it did find a small cult following, enough for him to begin a lifelong love affair with Pappy Van Winkle’s, a rather expensive blend of bourbon.
His most successful novel, “…aka ‘Zombies vs. Dinosaurs!’” was nominated for a National Book Award, but lost out again to yet another PowerPoint presentation from Jennifer Egan. In his novel “…aka “Zombies vs. Dinosaurs!” a failed writer who teaches creative writing at a community college suddenly becomes an overnight sensation when he posts a series of short stories written as a satirical retort to what he felt was the poor fan fiction his students continued to pass off as their own fiction. As he continues to post more and more satirical content, in which he envisages a dystopian future in which humans must fend off zombies while also evading dinosaurs who were accidentally brought into the future through a time portal, a bidding war between publishing giants suddenly erupts. For the failed writer, who once imagined himself as the bastard heir to the likes of Pynchon and Vonnegut, suddenly finding fame by writing unimaginably bad fiction, was bittersweet. So he does what any good writer would have done: he bites the hand that feeds him.
For Mr. Sanchez, the success of “…aka ‘Zombies vs. Dinosaurs!’” was also bittersweet. It brought him the success he craved, but it also brought unwelcome accusations of selling out, of which he dealt with in his usual succinct manner.
“They can all suck the hairs out of my shit-crusted ass!” he bellowed once during a speaking engagement, and then passed out after one too many shots of Pappy Van Winkle.
In his later years, Mr. Sanchez continued to write, as well as lecture throughout various college campuses. His lectures were often times unplanned affairs, degenerating into, depending on his mood, stand-up comedy, full-throated rants on the state of the book publishing industry, impromptu burlesque theatre, or cheery sing-alongs. He also took to the social media platforms of the time to engage in various public spats and feuds with several authors, many of whom he’d befriended on the blog site WordPress; apparently, his insecurities about his own writing led him to lash out at writers whom he’d admired
Mr. Sanchez was survived, and we do mean survived, by his wife Jaime, his daughter Sophia, several grandchildren, and way too many pets. Per his request, the hundreds of thousands of pages of manuscripts left behind were to be burned immediately, never to see the light of day.
(For another take on the Write Your Own Obituary, check out Jcc Keith’s take; she’s written a dandy of a self-obit.)