Excerpts from a letter from Hathaway, Hardaway & Schultz, Attorneys at Law, representing David Clevinger et al.
To: Amazon, Tiny White Box Publishing and Keith Howard
Keith Howard’s book about a year in the life of Clayton “Clay” Clevinger, On Account of Because, available from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Account-Because-Keith-B-Howard/dp/0692897445/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1515684891&sr=8-1 is an unfair portrait of a number of characters. It is both slanderous and libelous (when read aloud) and we request an injunction to cease and desist publication. Its continued distribution is likely to lead to the diminution of income, other monetary harm and injured self-esteem of our clients: David (“Pops”) Clevinger, Lucinda (Watkins) Clevinger, Sebastian (“Shiny”) Rutherford and Peter Wunderlich, Ph.D.
Your failure to cease and desist publication can be remedied with a cash payment of three (3) times the royalties paid so far to Mr. Howard.
As attorneys, we understand the legal challenges in representing fictional characters, however we believe our own fictional nature provides adequate standing to represent them. Regardless, the harm done to our clients is real and can only be partially satisfied by monetary penalties. Additionally, we would like future editions of On Account of Because to provide space for alternative interpretations of our clients’ behavior. They are, after all, as real as Clayton Clevinger.
Illustrative excerpts from their depositions follow.
David “Pops” Clevinger-I’ll always love Clayton, but I can’t understand why he was so hard on me. I’ve been pretty much sober now for two years, and I just wish this book would go away. It seems like Clayton has brought me a lot of bad luck, and I could use a re-deal. He’s living with my folks now, an author and everything, and he wouldn’t even give me 500 bucks when I called him a couple months ago. I told him I’d pay him back when I got a job. He said I was drunk. Well, what do you expect when the boy I raised has turned his back on me? You lawyers want his book not to get sold, but all I want is some return on my investment in Clayton.
Lucinda (Watkins) Clevinger-That boy is just no damn good! He was always looking down on David and me, with no understanding what life is like for folks like us. David’s an alcoholic, and I’ve got a drinking problem. He thinks his (expletive deleted) don’t stink just ‘cause he wrote a book. If I’d had $450 when I didn’t get my period, that little (expletive deleted) would have been washed down the drain. David and I have been off-and-on together since that little (expletive deleted) left, and I feel like he owes us. Especially me, because of the stretch marks.
Sebastian (“Shiny”) Rutherford-Sure, I liked Clayton, but he was such a baby. You should have seen his face when he found me drinking with Lucy and Pops—it was like somebody’d put his toys in a microwave. I feel like if someone shows you they’re a mark, it’s you’re responsibility to take advantage. It’s like one of God’s laws, like don’t crap where you eat. I don’t care whether he goes on selling his stupid book, but I feel like he owes me a cut for being his friend.
Peter Wunderlich, Ph.D.-I believe I was parodied from pillar to post in that dreadful book of Clayton’s. I tried to help him, using the techniques that helped earn me my doctorate. It’s called Philosophical Self-Discipline, and, in brief, it requires the malefactors, the bad actors, to reflect on the great philosophers, whose message, again in brief, is “straighten up and fly right.” Clayton’s portrayal of me as a weak, simpering fool mocked by his charges was just plain mean. When I first read it, I spent the afternoon at home biting my pillow.
In closing, Mr. Howard, through his creation of Clayton Clevinger, is responsible for monetary loss and emotional damage. We expect our clients to be made whole—even if they can’t be made real.