I was distraught to see in the NYTimes Home section yesterday a story about a writer who got a book contract based on his vow not to use toilet paper for a year.

That's right. He got a book deal with FSG based on a proposal about "living green" in Manhattan: no using subways, trains, buses or any other sort of transportation save a Razor scooter; no toilet paper; no TV; no lightbulbs; no eating anything that hasn't come from within 250 miles of NYC; no olive oil, coffee or spices; no disposable diapers for his child. They have even got a composter in their apartment with worms.

But, the kicker is: he is still using a computer (there's a blog at www.noimpactman.com); they are still using a washing machine; there may be no toilet paper but there is a "dryer"; they have a maid; and they still use the stove.

Would you go that far? Would you eschew toilet paper to get a book deal?

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Has he not heard of recycled toilet paper? I've seen it in the grocery store.

As a reader, I don't think I'd be any more inclined to read this guy's book because of this, but although I try to be responsible I'm not super ecologically conscious either.

A dryer? There are so many hygiene issues there I won't even start. Ew.
Damn, that sounds like my first year in college, sans maid.

As for how far I would go, I believe everyone has a price. When someone (briefly) offered Monica a six-figure deal for her book I told my wife, "Hell, I'd blow the president for six figures."

Of course, that depends on the president.
What if her name was Sarah?? :)
I wonder if all the toilet paper the guy is not using adds up to the same amount of paper that the article was printed on?

Sounds like all hook, no substance.
Not to mention all the paper for printing his book Daniel.

Maybe he's wealthy enough to have the maid wipe his bum for him. What he's doing adds up to the illusion of "living green" but there are a lot of things people do that aren't any good for the environment not touched on here anyway. Don't use toilet paper or disposable diapers, but then you're using cloth that you wash. So more on laundry detergent, more energy for running the washing machine to do the extra laundry and more energy drying the clothes and diapers etc. And then let's talk water conservation.

No light bulbs but a washer, dryer and computer. Give me a break. Just the kind of gimmick that loads of people buy into, though.

Nice to see people get book deals based on their ability to write.
A friend of mine used to have a hand powered washing machine. Something like 40 turns and a (very) small load was done. If you do it with the special organic washing powder, it's even more eco friendly. We used to have a store up the road that had all this stuff, before our suburb got all trendy. Yeah, we moved in.

I just love your use of the word 'bum'. Actually, I just love the word.
That washing machine sounds cool. Never heard of it before.

I wonder if this guy is using the composting toilets.
I saw an inventor in India who rigged something like that to an exercise bike and called it the Wash & Workout.
Gawker actually did a really good sendup of this (http://gawker.com/news/new-york-times/no-toilet-paper-but-plenty-of...)
and there's a link to the Times story.

It's one thing to really try to be ecologically friendly, but this was truly an effort to get a book published. According to the story, he had four ideas, and his agent took this one and then he managed to get a contract.
Well, I applaud the guy's ingenuity, but feel sad that some authors believe they have to resort to stunts to get noticed. But it worked, he got a contract, and presumably it was enough money to support himself, the wife, the baby and the maid for the year.

Publishers also line up to bid on the memoirs of heinous killers, while more worthy projects go a-begging. Celebs get multi-million dollar contracts on books that may never turn a profit while first time novelists are lucky to get a two or three-thousand dollar advance. I decry the huge sums publishers hand out for "trick" books while so many authors who do it the old-fashioned way, telling a crackling good story, can't even get read, much less published. But, that's the way the business rolls.

The guy who got the book contract is obviously not going totally green; but I doubt his condo association or apartment manager would agree to him lighting an indoor fire to cook, so keeping the stove I can see. The washer I can't see, even with a baby in diapers. If the family it truly going green, they need to wash and rinse the diapers by hand. And what's up with the "no olive oil?" Is it because it's imported?

I also wonder how on board his wife is with this project. It seems like a lot of the extra work may fall on her, even with a maid.

All that said, here (finally!) is my answer to your question...I would not give up any part of my lifestyle to get a book deal. Either it will happen on the strength of the work or it won't.

Pat Smith
That's the thing about publicity stunts. If it works, you're a genius. if it doesn't, you're an idiot. At this point, it's really no different than any other non-fiction pitch. He sold his hook. Now he's got to do the research and write the book. No matter what comes of it he's got his story.
Oh, this whole gimmick has such a holier-than-thou edge to it that I find it repulsive. But, I bet, if he's smart he'll be able to cash this in to big publicity. He'll have impressive sales . . . for awhile.

It's kind of in the tradition of Nellie Bly and journalists who'd manufacture events in order to write about them.

I just wonder about those other three ideas he had.


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