"This Novel Placed Here by The Fiction Circus"
I found myself in a hotel room this weekend, kicking back and drinking complimentary hotel coffee with my mates after we played a pretty good show in Boston. I love hotel rooms. I love how they provide luxury by attempting to ascertain a traveler's needs and then providing for them in advance, packing every square inch of a small room with intuitive frills. I like how they seem to say that human emotional problems can all be solved by creatively-folded towels and ample air conditioning.

Maybe they can!

"Oh shit! I need shampoo, but I don't want to buy a whole bottle because how will I fit that bottle in my already-stuffed suitcase?"


"Oh shit! I need a reasonable club sandwich and some gummy potato chips, but I am too tired to go downstairs and get one from the hotel bar!"


"Oh shit! The merger that I came here to negotiate has fallen through, meaning that my private equity company will now be bankrupt and now I will have to fire everyone, including the copy room boy with whom I am having a raucous, William Wycherly-style affair! Shall I put a gun in my mouth?"

ANSWER: (rummage rummage rummage)...the Bible? This Bible placed here by The Gideons? Oh shit! KABLAM!


As much as I love hotel rooms, I feel that this specific problem -- the problem of depression, alienation, and destablization that hotels create -- is not being sufficiently addressed by the hotel industry itself.

The only book available to read inside hotel rooms should not be the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is a depressing book that makes people insane. It promises hope, but instead provides gruesome stories of death, sacrifice, malice, and insanity. There may be a little bit of hope toward the end, but who reads the end of a book first?

I'm not AGAINST the Bible per se, but letting a group of crazed evangelical Christians leave their scat behind in your hotels says that you tacitly agree with their beliefs, giving people perhaps the wrong idea about your hotel chain organization.

Additionally, you are crushing desperate people with one last hellish glacier by only providing them with a Bible when they are frantically opening your drawers looking for peace and distraction.


So many evangelical conversion narratives begin with people who have worked themselves into psychotic frenzy looking for answers somewhere, anywhere, and only finding the Bible in the last desperate throes of their existential panic. They, of course, then decide to base their whole life on its simple wisdom.

But what if they had stumbled upon a copy of "American Gods," "The Shining," or "All Creatures Great and Small" instead?

(If Rocky Raccoon had found a copy of "Blood Meridian" instead of only finding Gideon's Bible in that hotel room, he might not have collapsed in that corner, shot by Dan.)

I don't think the solution is to remove these Bibles or ban them. I think the solution is to add more voices to America's temporary nighttables.

If hotels want to cut back on the amount of suicide and suffering that occurs within their gleaming white walls, they ought to let another concerned group of citizens -- citizens who are as directly engaged with ministering to the human condition as last century's angry evangelicals -- have access to Ideal Bedrooms.

I think there ought to be novels in every hotel room. Any novel. Stacked on top of every Gideon Bible across America, there also ought to be some cheap, frivolous used paperback. People need options.


From wikipedia:

"Gideons International (also known as Gideon's Bible) is an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible in over 80 languages and 190 countries of the world to those who might not otherwise encounter it, most famously in hotel and motel rooms. The organization was founded in 1899 in Boscobel, Wisconsin, as an early American parachurch organization dedicated to Christian evangelism. It began distributing free Bibles, the work it is chiefly known for, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana."

"The Gideons draw their volunteer members from many (although not all) Christian denominations, as described in Article 3 of the Gideon Constitution:"

Article 3.-Membership.

"The membership shall consist of business and professional men, except cler­gymen, who believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, have received Him as their per­sonal Saviour, endeavor to follow Him in their daily life, and who are members in good standing of an evangelical or Protestant church, congregation or assembly."



If you run a hotel, and you are interested in doing things a little differently here in the early 21st century, the Fiction Circus is making you an offer.

Tell us how many rooms you have, and we will dig up that number of books for you and send them to you.

We will stamp them with a "This Novel Placed Here by the Fiction Circus," and maybe our website URL. If you think theft will be a problem, we will also draft a little note for the inside cover of the book encouraging people not to steal the book, but to instead leave it for the next guest.

All we are asking for is equal treatment. Equal representation. We will do all the work, but obviously we can't put books in EVERY hotel room in America yet. First come, first serve. The first hotel that gets in touch with us will get:

A). Publicity!
B). A reputation for strange, progressive values!
C). Free books! Come on about it!

Anyway, we think this is a good idea, and more than mere whimsy.


A piece of fiction is better than an expertly-folded towel or free continental breakfast. One piece of unexpected personalization allowed within the confines of the manicured, antiseptic hotel space might just save lives and mend hearts.

I want to run to the bedside nighttable first thing when I enter a hotel room and see what novel is there waiting for me.

It would be like opening a fortune cookie.


We want to do this, but we think you should too. If you finish your novel while you are on vacation, leave it behind in your hotel room.

Scrawl a little message in the cover. "This novel placed here by Jack Torrance to be read and shared."

You could hoard your finished novel, you could sell it for a dollar, you could donate it to prisoners (also a good idea), you could donate it to children, or you could leave it behind for a thousand random strangers to read...to help them get through a lonely night of anguish or malice...to help promote a writer you like and to help hotels not be so damn cold and inhumane.

What would you rather reach for when you are at your lowest, your most depressed, and your most suggestible? King James? Or Stephen King?

Posted by miracle on Sun, 06 Jun 2010 14:55:33 -0500 -- permanent link

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