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Home: The Toast

Don’t be alarmed. Please — sit down. It’s very important that no matter what happens during our conversation, you move as little as possible. No, don’t get up. Please. You’ve got to listen to me.

There’s a book inside of you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

We’ve suspected it for some time, as you know. There was a time we believed that almost everyone had a book inside of them, but fortunately that’s turned out not to be the case. But there is a book inside you. No, we didn’t have to run any tests. There are no tests for this condition. When there’s a book inside someone, you just know.

We don’t know how long it’s been there, but it’s there now. This explains the wood pulp we found in your kidneys, and the unusually high levels of printer’s ink in your bloodstream, and the dedication page (“To Albert, with deepest love and gratitude”) we were able to successfully extract from your lungs during the procedure.

Yes, of course, and the papercuts on your liver. The many, painful, oozing, suppurating paper cuts criss-crossing your liver. It explains those, too. I’m afraid that there’s nothing we can do. Once you have a book inside of you, it’s there for life. It’s too dangerous to try to have it removed surgically, and it’s nearly impossible to write out of your system entirely.

I will be frank: there is no clear prognosis here. Some of our patients have found a degree of relief by announcing their condition at parties (“I have a book inside of me” generally seems to do the trick) loudly and frequently, but this is by no means the case in every situation. If you’re lucky, the book will remain stationary — the real danger is in the book migrating into the chest cavity or the extremities. This is why we do not recommend making any sudden movements. If the book were to reach your heart —

But there’s no reason to jump to worst-case scenarios. You’re young, and relatively active, and have plenty of outside interests. There’s every reason to believe that you have years of book-free life ahead of you.

I — yes, you could try to write it out. Others have tried that, when other remedies have failed. But there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to write the entire book outside of you. You might even write the wrong book entirely, and be no better off than you were before. No, the best course of action, in my professional condition, is not to write anything at all and to stick to loudly informing people of your interior book at parties and professional get-togethers. There’s a book inside of you, and it’s not coming out anytime soon.

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