Thursday, April 22, 2010

Labrahund or Dachsador

Yesterday I received an email from the agent who had agreed to read my manuscript. He said it was "fascinating and beautifully written..." Let's pause a moment to savor those words. They taste delicious, I have to admit.

After that, however, he mentioned that he hasn't had a great deal of success selling fiction recently, but that he'd like to talk to me anyway, tomorrow. He wondered when I might be available to talk.

All day and all night, I wanted to say. And did, actually, at least the first part (except for a lunch connected to my job).

So you know what's happened, right? He hasn't called. It's 5:22PM in New York and he hasn't called. I feel like a girl with a crush, jumping every time the phone rings. Trust me, it has been a long time since I felt like that.

So back to the delicious words and their delicately phrased "but":

Fiction has been trending--as the phrase goes--downhill ever since 9/11. I think it's true for all fiction, but I know it's true for literary fiction. I can understand why, too. The 21st century slapped our faces hard that day, and most of us have been fleeing ever since. The financial meltdown of 2008 only pushed the accelerator.

No doubt, this accounts for the fictional popularity of broomsticks, vampires and a thousand non-fiction examinations of the Middle East and Islam.

Realistic fiction dealing with women's lives has a market--five million Americans belong to reading groups, I'm told--but many of the books have tunneled a new genre: past chick lit to Mom Lit. Check out Katherine Center for a particularly well written variety of the latter--and she works, too: she blogs, videoblogs, Facebooks, all the new ways writers need to labor on behalf of their careers. Plus, as goes with the territory, she has young children. I am agog with admiration.

(My poor manuscript might be called ambivalent mom lit or scared mom lit...)

What's that got to do with the dog reference in my title above? Well, I was thinking of a dog I saw once, that I now know was a Bassador, not the ones mentioned above. That is it had a black Lab head and body and Basset hound legs--an animal that was neither one thing nor the other, but a very nice creature all the same. Rather like the email from that terribly kind literary agent, I thought.

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