the complete review Quarterly
Volume IV, Issue 1   --   February, 2003

Epistolary Fictions: Appendix
Gabe Hudson doesn't write us

       In an effort to present as complete a picture as possible of the events covered in Epistolary Fictions we attempted to contact several of those involved, most notably Mr. Hudson himself. An e-mail (see below) was sent to the e-mail address given on Mr. Hudson's website, on 12 January at 23:10. No reply of any sort was received. (To check whether Mr.Hudson does in fact receive -- or reply to -- e-mail sent to that address an innocuous "fan letter" was sent from a different e-mail address to Mr. Hudson in the week that followed; he (or someone signing themselves "GH" and using the return-address responded generously and warmly just over 24 hours later.)

       Mr. Hudson is, of course, free to respond to or ignore any and all correspondence he receives. Possibly our inquiry was too demanding, intemperate, or insignificant for him to bother with; no doubt he's a busy fellow. Still, we would like to note for the record that an opportunity was afforded him to respond to (or comment on) our questions, and that he chose not even to acknowledge receipt of our e-mail.

       We include here our letter to Mr. Hudson, to show readers what it is we were curious about (and also to allow you to judge for yourself whether Mr.Hudson may not have had some good reason(s) to ignore us).

       (Presumably, it would have been clever and/or amusing if we had -- in best Hudson-fashion -- claimed to have received a response from the author, accusing us perhaps of being "unliterary" and "ludicrous" and our questions "just plain bad reporting". That's satire, apparently. That's also not our style, so we can't offer it to you. Readers are, however, welcome to imagine for themselves how Mr. Hudson might have responded to our e-mail.)

From;      M.A.Orthofer
Date:      Sunday, 12 January, 2003 23:10
Subject:  Some questions about 'Dear Mr President'

Dear Mr. Hudson:

I'm the managing editor of the Complete Review (, and in the February issue of our "complete review Quarterly" we will be running a piece on your recent claims that you received a letter from President Bush re. your new book (and then your admission that you hadn't).

We hope you'll respond to a few of our questions -- and we welcome any other comments you'd care to make.

Specifically, we'd like to know:

1) Why didn't you actually send a copy of "Dear Mr. President" to the President and then take your cue from whatever response (or non-response) you received ? Were you afraid that if you sent the book you might actually get a response -- possibly even one showing a grasp of what your work is about and an appreciation of your literary skills (i.e. exactly the sort of response you presumably believe the President to be incapable of) ? Granted, it seems unlikely (that you would have gotten a response, much less a critically perceptive one), but don't you think you owed it to the President to give him the opportunity to respond ?

2) Have you sent a copy of "Dear Mr. President" to the President in the meantime ? (If so: when ? and have you had any response ? If not: why not ?)

3) After the White House denials (that the President had sent you a letter, etc.) why did you admit your claims were false ? Wouldn't continued insistence on your part that you had received such a letter have made for a much more effective "satire" ?

4) You invented a couple of quotes from the imaginary letter from the President -- that your writing was "unpatriotic" and "ridiculous" and "just plain bad writing." Did you ever have a complete letter in mind (or on paper) ? If so: will you publish it ?

5) In your public statement re. your (false) claims you state you "used the very same technique that I learned from watching the President, which is to dispense unverified information through the media". Did you really learn this technique from him ? And if so: can you cite the specific examples where it dawned on you what he was doing (and that you might follow his lead) ?

6) Do you think you owe your readers an explanation ? (As to what happened, as to why you did it, etc. After all: you haven't been very forthcoming about acknowledging the hoax you perpetrated: for a while your website linked to a page describing what had happened, but currently there doesn't appear to be any indication anywhere on the site about it, and you continue to link prominently to your interview with Deborah Treisman at McSweeney's (which repeats, in fairly convincing fashion, your initial false claims, without offering the truth).)

7) What, if any, is the reaction at readings (or in other encounters with the public) you get regarding these events ?

8) Do you worry -- or care -- that you may have lost credibility with this act ?

9) Your extra-literary efforts regarding "Dear Mr. President" -- specifically your "Write a Letter to the President"-contest, as well as your pretending to have received feedback from the President himself -- can, it seems to us, be seen: either as attempts to transcend the merely literary and engage in larger political debates, or as publicity stunts. Which are they -- and how effective have they been as such ?

10) Are you glad you did it (claimed Bush wrote to you) ? If not: what would you have done differently ?

11) A couple of years ago there were several posting among the McSweeney's letters from a "Kendall Hudson" reporting that you had died in a car accident (letters of 22 September and 1 October 2000). How did that work out for you ? Was that also satire -- perhaps an attempt at complete re-invention of the self ? a commentary on car-safety ?

Please feel free to make any other comments you'd like.

Thanks very much for your time.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Orthofer

Managing Editor, at

the Complete Review

- Return to Epistolary Fictions -

- Return to top of the page -

Current Issue | Archive | about the crQuarterly | the Literary Saloon | the complete review

to e-mail us:

© 2003 the complete review Quarterly
© 2003 the complete review