Thursday, January 22, 2009

no dice

The famous agent passed on Remedy Wheel. I'm disappointed, no way around it. But the feedback was positive in several areas, and the primary objection to the plot is one I hadn't expected and which few early readers have felt was a problem or even mentioned. It's a fundamental premise of the story and one I think I can reinforce. I'm not sure it will be a common complaint, and that gives me reason for hope, if it was truly the fatal flaw for this particular agency.

We'll see. This is the beginning of the road.

Our job candidate on campus today talked about how he had queried several dozen literary agents before hooking one for his story collection. It was a testament to perseverance. So, onward.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exhibit: Adventures in Tornado Alley, Photos by Eric Nguyen

The Todd/Browning Gallery in Los Angeles, California will exhibit a collection of Eric Nguyen's photography from March 12 through April 4. Eric was my close friend and chase partner and our experiences in 2007 were the subject of my essay "Put on the Petty" in The Missouri Review.

The Todd/Browning Gallery specializes in vintage and contemporary photography by both emerging and established artists from the USA, United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere. According to gallery director William Eiseman, this will be the first exhibition of storm photography ever in Los Angeles.

Much of Eric's family is from Newport Beach and they're looking forward to sharing his work with relatives who still live in California. We're all proud of him and gratified that he's receiving such well-deserved recognition.

Monday, January 19, 2009

sort of finished

In many ways I've finished Remedy Wheel, at least until such time as a beta-reader or agent or editor (I hope) describes the surely extensive revisions necessary to make it presentable. In the meantime, I feel okay about it. It beats the hell out of my MFA thesis, that's for sure, a document I intend to have found and destroyed by Republican ninjas.

What's next? Revising the synopsis, which I threw together literally overnight for the package that went to New York last month (still waiting). And, despite having a very kind client referral waiting in queue, otherwise known as plan B, it's probably wise to begin imagining a a query letter. In other words, the accouterments of schlepping a novel up and down the metaphorical mean streets of the city.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good news. Remarkable news, actually. From today's NYT:

Fiction Reading Increases for Adults

After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts says in a report that it now believes a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.

The report, “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” being released Monday, is based on data from “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2008. Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

no news is not news

I'm a bad blogger. I know this. I can't find anything compelling about the painstaking revision of a big novel. The process simply doesn't make for the stuff of story, in my mind. I made a few really positive changes today, but how would anyone reading here know that without having seen the material both before and after, without having read the entire manuscript to see how smoothly (I think) the new material fits into the image systems and schema [i don't know what that means but I have a feeling about it, like a color] of the story, or how certain deletions juxtaposed material so intuitively and "organically" that I instantly recognized their value? See? You can't.

But we have to blog apparently. We have to give good platform.

And the drama of my "partial" has really stretched about as far as tension can go without thinning into the sleepy funk of vigil. I'm still waiting to hear back from an agent who contacted me. I still hope he wants to see the rest of the book. I'm working as if he will, taking advantage of the winter break to revise revise revise. My beta-readers have saved my bacon.

In a few weeks I start teaching four classes at the University of North Texas, one of which is a senior level literature class. Preparation for these courses will consume much of next week, so I have to get what I can out of the next five days. I'm a good multi-tasker, however, and my own writing has never been neglected.

In other news, I noticed Matt Drudge was all crazy that Ann Coulter got bumped from an NBC program. Good for NBC. I was thinking of her just the other day, after watching the German film "Downfall," which called my attention to how much like Joseph Goebbels Coulter is, both in her constant spewing of hate, and how that hate is not directed outward but inward toward other Americans, seventy million Americans, to be precise, who voted for Barack Obama. The hated liberals, about whom a whole coterie of half-assed political hacks have a made a career describing various means to loathe them. Goebbels hated Jews. He wrote about this extensively, articulated it in fine detail (he had a PhD in literature), offering a ready made "intellectual" basis for the most violent crimes of the most violent century. He didn't care if they were German or not. It didn't make any difference to him if they'd been decorated officers or upstanding citizens. In this way he was as anti-German as Coulter is anti-American, hating more Americans in terms of aggregate numbers than probably any leader in the world besides Osama Bin-Laden. Bin-Laden purportedly hates 303 million Americans; Coulter comes in with a respectable 70 million. Not bad!