DEREK JETER AND JON KARP. KARP’S OFFICE AT SIMON & SCHUSTER. MID AFTERNOON.
KARP: What about Mattingly? Something along the lines of a history of hitting. Or maybe a how-to guide to hitting?
JETER SHAKES HIS HEAD
KARP: Why not?
JETER: Doesn’t feel right.
KARP: Too close to home?
JETER: Yankee thing.
KARP: Right, right. I see that.
KARP: What about Lee?
JETER: Still doesn’t feel right.
JETER: Baseball thing.
KARP: How do you mean?
JETER: Too obvious.
KARP: In what sense?
JETER: For the list I’m trying to build here.
KARP: Do I need to remind you that the first book we have under contract is “Derek Jeter’s Guide to Baseball.”
JETER: I know.
JETER: I’m thinking it’s a mistake.
KARP: A mistake?
JETER: But I’m willing honor that commitment because I don’t want to disappoint the kids.
KARP: Well that’s a relief.
JETER: Did you hear about that book by Hallberg?
KARP: Garth Risk Hallberg?
JETER NODS AGAIN
KARP: I was in that auction, Derek.
JETER: Well. See. Right there. That’s disappointing.
KARP: Disappointing in what sense?
JETER: You didn’t come to me.
KARP: Come to you?
KARP: Why would I come to you?
JETER GIVES KARP A LOOK.
JETER: The ambition of the book is what I’m talking about. That’s what people see in me. That’s what my list needs to be.
KARP: It’s a 900 page novel for chrissake.
JETER: I read it.
KARP: You read it?
JETER: Lamb sent me the manuscript on the QT. He knows how much I loved Harbach’s novel.
KARP (MOSTLY TO HIMSELF): I can’t believe we’re having this fucking conversation.
JETER: ’77 was a special year for me, Jon. I was 3. My mother took me into the city for the first time that summer and I remember the grit and the smell and the life of it. People came here to escape their circumstances, not to make a killing. It was before New York became a bright shining Bloombergian object. Hallberg captures that vitality better than any other novelist in memory.
KARP: I read the proposal, Derek.
JETER: And then there’s the symmetry of it all. Do you know how good we were in ’77? Guidry. Hunter. Munson. Dent. Rivers. Piniella. Chambliss. The World Series in six against the Dodgers.
KARP: We never had a conversation about fiction, Derek. We talked about sports books, lifestyle books, business books.
JETER: Jon. (PAUSE) I say this with a great deal of respect. (PAUSE) But that is a failure of your imagination. (PAUSE) Baseball is about narrative. Baseball is about story. And novels are what I want to publish. Forget the lifestyle and business crap. That’s for Workman and Portfolio. I want to produce a list that rivals Knopf and FSG.
KARP HAS HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS AND IS SLUMPED OVER IN HIS CHAIR.
JETER (LOOKING AROUND): Nice office, Jon.
JETER REMOVES A COPY OF SUSAN ORLEAN’S RIN TIN TIN FROM KARP’S BOOKSHELF
JETER: Here’s another one.
KARP: Another what?
JETER: Writer I’d like to publish.
KARP: Susan has a two-book contract with me.
JETER: I had dinner with her agent last night.
KARP: How do you know Richard?
JETER: We do colonic cleanses with Dr. Weil every year.
JETER: No need for that tone, Jon.
KARP: I’m not sure this is going to fly with Carolyn.
JETER: I’ll handle Carolyn.
KARP: And how do you aim to do that?
JETER: We’re going to discuss it tomorrow evening.
KARP: I don’t think so, Derek. (PAUSE. KARP SMILES) She’s attending the National Book Awards.
JETER: I know. I’m her date.
JETER TURNS, EXITS.