Squawk Radio

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Eloisa on How To Talk to an Author...if you must

OK, I wish I'd thought up this clever essay on my own, but I didn't... This is a funny little essay from Publishers Weekly written by Pamela Satran. It had so many truths in it that I thought you all would love it. I'm putting quotes from the article in red, and my commentary in this darker color--because what's the good of a blog that's not in two colors?). I'm a wee bit more cynical than Pamela is.

"There's only one thing authors want to hear when they send their manuscripts to their agents or editors: 'Oh my God, this is brilliant. The best thing I've ever read. Here's a million dollars -- no, wait, let's make it 10 million.'" Pamela is brilliant. She must be old and withered to have grown to such a position of wisdom.

For all of you who have or will in the future meet an author whose book didn't quite make the grade for you (tossed into the bathroom trash after two minutes, but let's not quibble with details), here's a primer of what to say to that author. Pamela is in red; I'm following her.

* Truth. The first page stopped me dead.
What to say instead: I can't wait to really dive in.
Eloisa's version: It reminded me of James Joyce's Ulysses. Really.

*The truth: I couldn't get past the first ten pages.
What to say instead: I'm saving it for my next vacation.
Eloisa's version: This is real literature --not like that trashy romance stuff.

*Truth. Borrrrrrrrring.
Instead: It was so well-written.
Eloisa's version: Thank goodness someone is holding up literary standards -- otherwise, there'd be nothing but romance published. And that's nothing more than porn for women, you know.

*Truth: Managed to make it halfway through.
Instead: Reading and loving it!
Eloisa's version: I had to stop constantly and just think...that's how deep it was for me.

*Truth: The main character is awful.
Instead: Love the story!
Eloisa's version: It takes a real artist to make us love a chainsaw murderer.

*Truth: There's no story.
Instead: Love the characters!
Eloisa's version: Narrative is so worn, you know? Punctuation too.

*Truth: I can't possibly be the only one who thinks this is so bad.
Instead: How have the reviews been?
Eloisa's version: I bet you'll be on Oprah as soon as she reads this.

*Truth: Please don't write another book.
Instead: You deserve a long break.
Eloisa's version: Honey, it's so unfair the way everyone reads that trashy stuff...if they knew how to judge a real book, you'd be so rich, you wouldn't have to think about writing another book.
Eloisa James, 4:16 PM