February 12, 2008
A Legal Obligation to be Witty?
The Boston Globe's Miss Conduct, who answers such pressing etiquette questions as whether one should say "bless you" when an aetheist sneezes, reports that she has signed a book deal. Feeling the pinch of reality after having actually executed a written deal, she notes one of the contract's curious requirements:
I must say I love this, from the first paragraph in the contract:
"The Work shall be an approximately 65,000-75,000 word (256-288 book page) witty, sophisticated compendium of etiquette advice for the modern, socially diverse world ..."
I've never been under legal obligation to be witty before! It's rather frightening. I have Kafkaesque nightmares about being sued for breach of contract. ("Your honor, we submit that the defendant only thinks she's funny ...")
Shouldn't Hemingway's quip that "you lose it if you talk about it" apply to contracts?
[Meredith R. Miller]
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