Litkicks Message Board Archive

don't know the writer or the genre (HELP!)

Posted to WritersAndGenres

Hey guys! I'm trying to remember the title and author of this story I read in middle school. I can't for the life of me figure it out and google is no help. Does any one know what story this basic premise matches? I think I read it in 8th or 9th grade around the time the Challenger exploded:

A guy loses a bet, or some something like that, and is forced to live in captivity. He asks his keeper to provide him with all sorts of bullshit to keep him busy, like learning languages, etc. The guy ends up becoming such an accomplished linguist that he sends off letters to different people over the world, written in their native tongues. He asks his captor to set off fireworks, or something similar, if there are no mistakes in his prose.

It is all pretty blurry but it definitely involves writing letters in multiple foreign languages he learned while confined. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.