Now think on this for a minute.

Your town is doing a community read project. Lots of people reading, reading everywhere, reading moving their lips, reading with their finger tracking the lines of print, reading on their ebook readers or listening on a whole passel of proprietary audio literature delivery devices.

Well, you like to read, sure, but you are a WRITER! And what’s more, you belong to a local writer’s group. So what are YOU going to do in the spirit of culture on a community level?

Well, you’re going to get together and write a mystery! And that’s what Winston-Salem Writers have done with Cheerwine is Fine.  And what’s more, there’s precedent!

Way back in 1969 a group of journalists at Newsday magazine decided to get together and collectively write a Really Bad Book. Their hoax, Naked Came the Stranger, was intended to make fun of the lighter and more recreational tastes in American literature.  The plot was about, well, a lot of sex, and was published under a pseudonym. Eventually the authors came clean about it all in an interview on the David Frost show. Fittingly, my information on this particular title comes from Wikipedia, where you may also see a picture of the book’s cover. I won’t post it here because, ah…ahem…there may be copyright issues involved! That’s right, it’s about copyright.

Cover of "Naked Came the Manatee"

Cover of Naked Came the Manatee

Good ideas never really lose traction, so more recently in 1996, a group of South Florida writers decided to create another collaborative serial story, in this case for the Miami Herald’s Tropic magazine. This mystery parody, Naked Came the Manatee, was penned by a lot of authors YOU KNOW! The thirteen chapters came from authors like Dave Barry, Edna Buchanan, Tananarive Due, Elmore Leonard, among others, and a final chapter tying it all together by Carl Hiaasen! I can’t find any indication that these authors saw fit to hide behind any manner of pseudonym.  And well yes, of course, we DO have this title in the public library; go right ahead and check it out!

So we’re keeping the tradition in the South.

Jennifer Stevenson reminded Winston-Salem Writers about Manatee, and the writers have generously shared a serial mystery they are working on with On The Same Page (and I think they are having fun, too). Cheerwine is Fine is forthwith introduced to our literary public. And we’re going to publish a chapter or two at a time here, for your reading pleasure. So check back for additional chapters, because you’ll want to find out how on earth they came up with that title, and what’s really going on in Enderton, NC. (Have you noticed, too, how Cheerwine just seems all over the cultural landscape these days?)

Click here to read Cheerwine is Fine, and check back frequently for subsequent chapters! Right now, welcome to Chapters One and Two!

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