Daniel Handler has informed me he won't answer any of my e-mails (even though he initiated every e-mail exchange we had).
For his sake, this is just as well, because every time he discussed the matter he contradicted previous statements of his, digging himself deeper. For instance, in his first e-mails he said he hadn't shown the letter to anyone but Sedaris. In his last one he admits he "showed it around."
He mentioned the ULA house zeen Slush Pile. Jeff Potter checked his records-- they show that Handler ordered a copy in early May, well over a month before the magic letter made its appearance at litster parties. Slush Pile of course discusses the ULA's exchanges with the Eggers camp. Contrary to his statement that he "doesn't care" about the ULA, and hardly knew anything about us, we find him interested in the feud six weeks before the letter's appearance.
The main point is the big "X" on the letter. I put myself in Daniel Handler's place, and wondered at my reaction if I received a similar letter, from friend or foe, underground or establishment. WHOEVER the letter would be purportedly from, the big "X" in place of a signature would make me question its authenticity-- as it would to anyone with half a brain. Wouldn't it make you question it also? If I later received an e-mail from the supposed author denying any connection, and requesting information, this would further pull me up short. There's no way, at that point, I'd give to someone to publish.
Only someone who knew it was phony to begin with-- whoever constructed it-- would ignore my e-mail. Only someone to whom it was just a gag-- a big joke. In fact, my immediate opinion upon seeing the letter was that it was an obvious shot at the Underground Literary Alliance-- the big illiterate "X" there for wink-wink purposes, obviously aimed at putting us down.
The problem Handler and Sedaris must've run into, if wanting to laugh the whole thing off after it was published, is that the folks at the Ruminator accepted the letter as legitimate, were not in on the joke. Their publishing it opened them up to responsibility which they didn't deserve.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the fake letter existed before Daniel Handler. That it was sent to him without envelope, address, postmark, is ludicrous. We could easily check with the person who handles author mail at HarperCollins and find out what's up. The suggestions I've received as to how it could've happened not even Handler's children readers would believe. Someone said that "X" must've snuck into HarperCollins (past security; without employee ID), found and entered the mailroom, and deposited the naked letter there, someplace where they'd be sure to notice. Ostensibly it was then sent up with the legitimate mail to the proper office, where the employee forwarded the crank, unaddressed etc letter, without comment. The scenario is indeed out of a children's book! The question unasked is why I, "X," or whomever would go to all that trouble, taking the risk of the letter most likely not getting there, when he could've simply dropped it into the mail. Duh! People are working backward for explanation. As usual, the simplest explanation is the best; that Handler, wanting to be a hit at parties, and engaged in the Eggers gang/ULA feud, created the letter himself.