December 12, 2011

ADVICE: “I was born to be an Edwardian gentleman of leisure [but] have no money. What can be done about this?”


The Fallback Plan is a weekly column written by Leigh Stein (author of the novel The Fallback Plan), that offers advice to those undergoing a second adolescence. For an illustrated fallback plan of your own, write to [email protected]. Anyone whose question is answered by Leigh will receive a free copy of her novel.

Dear Leigh;

I feel deep in my bones that I was born to be an Edwardian gentleman of leisure, sitting in my library in slightly odd trousers, reading books all day long. Yet I was also born in 1976, and have no money. What can be done about this?

Yours sincerely,


Dear James,

I can already tell, by your email address, that you are a man of substance, with a charming accent. That being said, please send a picture of the odd trousers post-haste.

I have some plans for you to make money by just being you:

1. What do you know about ghosts? You could charge tourists ten pence, or ten kangaroos, or whatever it is you use down there for currency, and lead them through your hometown, pointing out the charming locales and scintillating details of recent (and ancient) murders.

2. Book recommender. Instead of sitting in your library all day like a layabout, visit someone else’s library! Tell them what’s wrong with their collection, and how they could improve it. Drop foreign words, like weltschmerz or saudade or Balzac so they know you are an important person with lots of knowledge. Then send an invoice.

3. John Keats. Keats had rich friends, so why shouldn’t you? Sure, he paid the cost of tuberculosis, but at least he died before his friends could collect his debts.

4. Psychotherapist. It takes approximately forever to get a degree in this, but in the end, you can require that everyone refer to you as “Dr. James,” and you’ll be able to afford all sorts of trousers.

Best of luck,

Cartoon by Sommer Browning, author of Either Way I’m Celebrating