Sunday, December 04, 2005


I consider myself a fairly friendly guy who has, many, many times, been more than willing to help other writers or promote other people's work or give contacts to people or whatever. But there are limits to this kind of thing.

Lately, and especially over the last two years, I've gotten a ridiculous number of requests based on the fact my Angela Carter essay is posted on the Modern Word website. Below find a typical exchange. Admittedly, I might've been a bit more abrupt than usual because I'm just getting sick of it. I love the poor pitiful me response. Somebody out of the blue wants me to just stop everything I'm doing and locate a quote for her. I would never think of sending an email of this kind to a stranger--and I certainly didn't do it while researching a college paper while at university.

So--if you're reading this and you're expecting me to take time off from my day and night jobs and countless additional projects to find a quote in an Angela Carter book for you, or write your research paper for you, or...well, all I can say is, Evil Monkey has a few choice words for you.


Sample Exchange

You are rude. I am a college student with a lot more to do than search through a volume- which I would love to read but don't have the time to before the paper is due. I guess don't deserve much of anything these days but I wish that you would have been more considerate with your response.

From: "Jeff VanderMeer"
To: joy --------
Subject: RE: Angela Carter
Date: Sat, 03 Dec 2005 15:25:26 -0500

I get about two dozen requests of this nature a year. Without being rude, let me just suggest you do your own research. If you can't find the quote, then perhaps you don't deserve to use it.


From: "joy --------"
Subject: Angela Carter
Date: Sat, 03 Dec 2005 09:54:48 -0800

I am working on a paper and would like to use a quote from Angela Carter, the quote is something to the effect of "picasso cuts up women". Can you direct me to her work (I think within Burning your Boats) where I could locate the quote.
Thank you.


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Abigail Nussbaum said...

Ha! I should have known I wasn't the only person this was happening to. Back in August, I wrote a review of Carter's Wise Children, and since then it's been getting consistent hits from people searching for 'themes of fatherhood', 'issues of illegitimacy', 'shakespeare references', and, of course, 'A levels'. Happily, none of the visitors have gone so far as to ask me for help with their homework, possibly because my review isn't much help for a student on the prowl.

It's nice to know that Carter is on the high school curriculum in the UK, at least.

Is the Carter article you mentioned the same one that appears in Why Should I Slit Your Throat? That article really inspired me to look Carter up. I had liked but not loved The Bloody Chamber, but your retrospective convinced me look up Carter's novels. So far this year I've read Wise Children and Nights at the Circus and enjoyed them both immensely. I'll probably read The Magic Toyshop next

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous jmorrison said...


hi, i'm a blogger and i'm looking for a quote from sometime from the years 1746-1973 which accurately describes my as of yet unformed views on the mating rituals of chtenopteryx squid.

you're into squid right?

could you please look into my soul, retrieve my views, then research all printed materials published between the years specified and choose an appropriately pithy (and also amusing) quotation for use on my blog?

please remember to also research the copyright information and country-specific copyright laws which might effect my usage of said quote. remember jeff, if it's worth doing it's worth doing right.


At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Iain Rowan said...

Make stuff up. It's fair more entertaining.

"Yes, I can help, I've dug back through my papers and can confirm that the exact quote is 'picasso cuts up women as if he were some kind of monstrous bacon slicer made flesh - only still with the slicy bits, obviously'.

Feel free to use this in your essay. Hope this helps,

Evi - uh, Jeff."

At 1:46 AM, Blogger Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff,

I heard somewhere that a banana isn't really a fruit.

What's that all about?

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Keith said...

If only there were a building that contained large quantities of books (and maybe other print and access to electronic media), with intelligent, well trained professionals that work there, that could aide students and researchers in their efforts... such a book hoarding place would be really great, especially if they let people borrow those book instead of making them buy them.

Maybe you could use this idea in some fantasy novel. I bet it'd be real interesting.

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Usually, I just delete these requests. Probably should have done that this time, too.

Yeah--there are things called libraries. And Amazon and Google text searches, etc.

Abigail--yes, it's the same Carter article.

I'm glad you picked up more of Carter's work!


At 8:55 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

How do you sleep at night, you vile bastard!?

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Anonymous said...

Alternately, you could send her to a site like this:

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Luís Rodrigues said...

Dear Mr VanderMeer,

I am writing a paper on the great apes of the blogosphere and would appreciate your help locating a quote by Evil Monkey from sometime in the Summer of 2005 which goes more or less like "bite me".

Thank you,

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Joe said...

When I worked in the bookstore I used to get similar requests from undergrads (and occassionally teachers and lecturers as well). I also worked in the college library where we got students who either hadn't bothered to leant how to use the libary resources or were too lazy to do their own research. In the store we had to be polite but at the library my colleagues told me to simply say, yes, I can help you - there are the record files and there are the abstracts and indices, now go and do your own work...

At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.
Paper on Research


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