One day, a man walked into the office of a literary agent. The agent glanced at him, closed the romantic comedy that he was reading, and look up. The man was an older gentlemen, dressed in clothing that lent him an air of elegance and sophistication without being ostentatious.
“May I help you?”
The man paused, started to speak, and then pointed at the chair in front of the agent’s desk. The agent gestured, and the man sat.
“I’m looking for an agent for a book that I have written. It’s about a man and his quest.”
The agent spun 62 degrees to the right in his Herman Miller chair, placed first his left foot and then his right onto the corner of this desk, and leaned back.
“Tell me about this book of yours".
The man – and at this point, he should properly be referred to as the author – the author leaned back slightly, and began to speak.
It is the story of a man, a simple man, the owner of a bakery in a small town. He had chosen his career because of his fond recollections of the summers he spent with his uncle, and after twenty years of hard work, had achieved considerable success, but he remained unfulfilled, as he had never been able to duplicate the bread his uncle had made. He had invested considerable time and effort in this pursuit, building a separate kitchen and having an oven shipped from his uncle’s town, but to no avail. He could not help feeling that, despite all his material belongings, he was destined to remain in the shadow of his uncle’s superior skills.
Sadly, his uncle died, and he travelled back to his uncle’s city. While visiting his aunt, she handed him a small, time-aged envelope with his name on it. Opening it, his eyes fell on his uncle’s handwriting, describing the recipe for the bread, the bread that he had been seeking to duplicate for so long. He was torn, torn between the pain of losing his uncle and the fulfillment of his quest. He returned home, and went on to nationwide acclaim.
The author stopped speaking, and looked at the agent. “That is my story. What do you think?”
The agent gazed thoughtfully at the book occupying the bookshelves throughout the room, evaluating what he had heard. Thirty seconds passed in silence, and he spoke.
"The ending is weak, but the basic story is good. It has a good chance of being a successful novel.”
The author preened at the praise.
The agent continued, “but, you said it was ‘your story’. Can you tell me, is this a true story?”
The author replied, “The story is based upon my experiences – that is, to say, I have built the story inside of the world in which I grew up – but it is not a true story.”
The agent sighed, and spoke.
“Then I’m sorry to have wasted your time; I’m afraid I can’t help you”.
The man shrunk back into his chair as all of the energy drained from his body. He signed, and spoke:
The agent replied, “I don’t deal with all kinds of books. Specifically, I don’t deal in naan-fiction”.