Received this morning from a novelist based in the West:
You’re a novelist. So I am.
So you can immediately see the big hole in the plot of the mystery about the scandalous goings-on at the literary festival.
You’ve been tried and found guilty by the very people you brought in to help you manage it. But what are you guilty of?
There’s no crime.
I have seen mysteries (indeed, I have written mysteries) in which there was no body. But I have never seen a story about a felony where there was no felony.
Judging by what I can gleam from my own investigations, there are four possible candidates for the role of the misdemeanor that got you canned.
1. The reason they actually gave you: the December 4th blog. Is this the crime? No. It is so utterly mild and inoffensive (rather like you) that it must be a red herring.
2. Then there’s the reason they apparently give other people, which is a distaste for your personality along the lines of the classic American phrase “we just don’t like your face”. Phrases such as “he is impossible to work with” or “we can’t work with him” have been posited as reasons. I’m reluctant to accept this angle for several reasons. First, it’s so vague as to be meaningless. You cannot sack a casual worker these days without sending him six warnings in writing. To think you can sack the founder of a charity because you don’t like working with him would be too ridiculous. Also, it is abundantly clear that other parties involved are legendary for being impossible to work with. If you were impossible to work with, you should have fitted in just fine.
3. There are the reasons you give us yourself. You objected to being cut out of the prize administration. You objected to the “no Asians” thing. You wanted non-Chameleon Press people on the board. If they really sacked you for these reasons, then there’s a major screw-up here. None of these things are felonies. They are merely discussion points, and rather reasonable ones, at that.
4. That leaves us with only one possible offence -- a Mystery Crime. You committed an offence that is so secret -- or so unspeakable -- that it has been left out of this entire voluminous debate.
I must admit, as a novelist, this is the option I prefer. It has drama. It has color. It has potential.
I put it to you, Mr Vittachi, that you embezzled a very large sum of money indeed from the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival.
I put it to you, Mr Vittachi, that you slept with the daughter of the chairman of the Man Asia Literary Prize.
I put it to you, Mr Vittachi, that you did both these things at the same time, while stating that you did not give a toss about Ma Jian and would prefer a good John Grisham novel any day.
I put it to you, Mr Vittachi, that if you did not do these things, you should have done.
Only then does this whole mystery make sense.
Yours in penmanship,