This summer, a handful of journalists in San Francisco received mysterious packages—hand-delivered, in some cases—containing manuscripts of a book titled “Iterating Grace.” The writing was credited to Koons Crooks, the story’s protagonist and doubtlessly not a real person.
Soon after finding the book on his home doorstep, Fusion editor-in-chief Alexis Madrigal began publicly speculating about its origins and marveling at its content. Madrigal’s two articles about the book amounted to some 2,700 words, more than the 2,001-word count of the book itself, which he also posted in full on Fusion.com.
The artifact itself consists of a 2,001-word story interspersed with hand-drawn recreations of tweets by venture capitalists and startup people like Chris Sacca, Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Sam Altman, and others…
No one knows who wrote the story or created the book. No one knows what the person who did it all wants. Most people I know who’ve received the book, who are all either journalists or authors, think it is some sort of dark-arts marketing scheme. They think Microsoft or Google or some startup is behind this whole production, and that the commercial purpose of this thing will soon be revealed to us.
It turned out that there were 140 copies of the book circulating among Madrigal’s peers, writers who cover the world of technology and startups—a world criticized for being insulated and self-congratulatory, and the satirical target of “Iterating Grace.”
“It’s just a perfect little skewering of the current moment,” Madrigal wrote, arguing that the writing was “too good” for it to be the product of a corporate stunt.
Nearly six months later, some people still think this was a viral marketing scheme, according to the New York Times, which today announced a new twist in the story: “Iterating Grace” was picked up by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the venerable East Coast publishing house, and comes out today in paperback and e-reader form. Turns out the book has two authors, and only one person at FSG is privy to their identities.