People wonder about the cover of my book, which features a prairie dog gesticulating rudely. Some people don't like it. Some people do like it. This is from an Amazon review: "You should buy this book, if not for the story then at least for the fantastic image of a prairie dog flipping the bird." I concur, of course, except you should also buy it for the story.
The antisocial prairie dog is an allusion to a scene from the book, but it might also be more than that. Barn Again: A Memoir is a comic novel that was rejected by more than eighty agents and publishers. I was very bitter after so much rejection, and that bitterness took the form of an escalation of my attack on the publishing industry. I was already making fun of that industry in the rejected drafts of the novel, but I got meaner (maybe in a funny way) after about the sixtieth rejection and made some satiric adjustments, like making the character of the literary agent more ridiculous:
It seems like I’ve exhausted the list of possible reasons why someone would write a memoir, but there’s one I didn’t mention: literary agents. This book began, respectably enough, as a collection of essays with the rather frumpish title Seventeen Essays, but my agent burned thirteen of them and mailed the ashes to me. She called me up: “I’ve got two words for you, Johnny boy: Alsatia Alamanni. My new client whose debut novel is Suckpad. It’s about a vampire lothario who retreats, after 9/11, into a life of high-class hedonism—lots of fucking and sucking, with brand names, at times quite literally, out the wazoo—centered around his glorious, rent-controlled Fifth Avenue apartment, only to find redemption after discovering he is the father of an overweight teenage boy named Horatio who has Asperger’s, asthma, and a wisecracking invisible friend named Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. Jr. Suckpad is About a Boy meets Interview With the Vampire meets Everything Is Illuminated, who introduces them all to Million Little Pieces, with a dash of Hunger Games thrown in to attract the YA crowd.” If you don’t know what YA means, I love you.
The book is primarily a fuck-you to the publishing industry, but realizing it was making a spectacle of itself, the book looked around, and said, "And fuck you, too. And fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you, you're OK, fuck you fuck you fuck you," and so on, and so that's why the cover, which was created by Daniel Hentschel of Hard Luck Comics, sort of almost makes sense.