Sir: Our infrastructure is in a sorry state. Bridges are creaky and dropping chunks of concrete. Roads are full of potholes. Sidewalks are crumbling. All these things desperately need work—and, in far too many cases, no one is out there working.

Yet, at the same time, Dan Brown continues to write more amateurish thrillers as if he were doing the world a favor. Why is he allowed to clutter up the literary landscape with formulaic rubbish when the Greenfield Bridge is falling down on the Parkway? If he has time to plot out a dozen more novels featuring Robert Langdon of Harvard’s renowned Department of Symbology, he has time to pour some concrete. No one really needs a ridiculous and contrived story about some centuries-old conspiracy involving the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the 4-H Clubs, but everyone would benefit from some maintenance work on the East Busway.

I call upon Congress and the president to see to it that our nation’s infrastructure is made our top priority. Let Dan Brown be put to work wherever an extra hand is needed. Let him spend as many hours a day on real labor as he would otherwise spend failing to make his verbs agree with his subjects. Our prosperity and our literary reputation both depend on it.

Salman Rushdie,
Address withheld by request


  1. Perhaps we could expand this suggestion into a major program. Let all celebrity authors, who have the brains to put words in a row but not the brains to make them say anything worth saying, be put to work repairing our infrastructure. Not just the fiction writers who can’t fill a plot hole or create a non-cardboard character, rassle up all the so-called non-fiction writers who churn out fad diet books, investment gurus and management-theory “experts” alike, and conscript them into a new Works Progress Administration-style army of infrastructural improvement brigades.

    Let John Grisham and Deepak Chopra lift shovels to dig new highway underpasses. Send Stephen King and Andrew Weil to plaster over the cracks in Hoover Dam. Make James Patterson and Tom Clancy drive steamrollers over fresh-laid asphalt on the Ohio Turnpike.

    And when you run out of bricks and paving stones, use the corpses of executed reality-TV stars as building materials. I suggest you start with the Kardashians and the cast of Jersey Shore.

  2. rafinlay says:

    I, for one, would not be comfortable crossing a bridge maintained by such a “work”force.

  3. Alan Kellogg says:

    Salman is jealous! Salman is jealous!

  4. Sean says:

    Any bridge built by Franzen would probably become depressed and have a sex change between one embankment and the next.

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