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Archives: May 2005

The Resilient Quiz

Cathy Wald continues her reign as GC’s first guest poster with a quiz culled from anecdotes described in The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors.

1. Arthur Golden’s first manuscript of Memoirs of A Geisha was rejected by an agent as “too dry.” After Golden rewrote it, he would have resubmitted it to the same agent except for the fact that she
a) refused to write a letter to the IRS on his behalf.
b) refused to look at the manuscript again.
c) told him it was a genre book.

2. When Bob Shacochis was at Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he turned several agents down because they told him to
a) write nonfiction.
b) write celebrity biographies.
c) stop trying to sell short stories.

3. M.J. Rose sold a novel on the Internet after two of her novels were rejected by 11 publishing houses because they were said to be
a) too intellectual.
b) too difficult to place in a recognizable niche.
c) too sexually explicit.

4. Janet Fitch laughed when she received a flattering letter from a publisher who had not published her YA novel because
a) the publisher knew nothing about YA books.
b) the publisher had gone out of business.
c) the publisher had turned down the same book.

5. E. Lynn Harris, who was forced to self-publish his first novel, received his first meaningful vote of confidence on behalf of the publishing industry from
a) the owner of an African-American bookstore.
b) someone in a publishing house’s publicity department.
c) a literary agent’s secretary.

6) Early in his publishing career, Pushcart Press publisher Bill Henderson was fired from which publishing house?
a) Random House
b) Doubleday
c) Farrar, Straus & Giroux

7) Which author in The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors wrote a nasty letter to a book reviewer, which she came to regret later?
a) Amy Tan
b) Kathryn Harrison
c) Elinor Lipman

Answers follow the jump.

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Welcome Cathy Wald, Guest Poster

resilient.jpgToday, we’re temporarily turning GC over to Cathy Wald, the woman behind one of GC’s favorite sites,, as well as the author of The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors (Persea Books). In case you haven’t read about The Resilent Writer on Moorish Girl or one of the other sites Cathy’s popping up on today on her virtual book tour, the book features conversations with Arthur Golden, Wally Lamb, Amy Tan, and others about — what else? — rejection, resiliency, and more rejection.

Reality Bites

Twentysomethings! Have something unique to say? Want to get ripped-off while saying it? Submit yourself to the arcane rules of Random House’s Twentysomething Writers Contest!

Up to twenty-eight Runners Up will win a contract as described without monetary compensation. By signing the contract, Grand Prize Winner and each Runner Up will convey to Random House all of the rights covered in the contract, which will include the right to publish, distribute, sublicense and sell the submission as part of the Work, in the English language, for all formats and editions of the Work, throughout the world, as well as the right to license first serial rights in the Work including the submission, all without monetary compensation other than the cash award to the Grand Prize Winner.

Random House does, however, issue a warning to twentysomethings who can’t be bothered with the fine print. Most, unfortunately, will assume RH is joking:


“Reading” between the Without Lines

Among the questions facing audio book connoisseurs are: Which is better suited to the format, fiction or nonfiction? Can a bad narrator ruin a great book? If you’ve listened to a book, have you really “read” it?

Many of the audio book fans quoted in this NYT piece say listening does, in fact, count as reading. But, asked about their least favorite books-on-tape (or books-on-CD/mp3/whatever), they’re quick to seperate the experience of listening from the experience of judging, presumably reserving the latter for books they’ve read sans-quotation-marks:

A book about string theory by the physicist Brian Greene proved entirely unable to hold [Rich] Cohen’s auditory attention, as did “Hamlet.” With “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” however, he had the multitasking satisfaction of digesting a book he had always been curious about but did not want to devote the time to actually reading.

Charlton Heston reading “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” proved a dud [...] “You keep waiting for him to announce that Kilimanjaro’s been taken over by damned dirty talking apes,” [David] Lipsky said. “Now it’s hard to read ‘Kilimanjaro’ without hearing Heston’s voice.”

The novelist Sue Miller said she prefers Henry James on tape because the narrator has untangled the complex sentences for her. But she found D. H. Lawrence unbearable. His notoriously repetitive prose “doesn’t lend itself to an auditory experience,” she said.

Just Can’t Get Enough

I can’t decide what analogy works best here: self-destructive drug addiction or deeply thoughtless arms race:

NEW YORK – Despite widespread agreement that too many books are in the marketplace, publishers apparently can’t help themselves.

A study announced Tuesday estimates that a record 195,000 new works came out in 2004, a 14 percent jump over the previous year and 72 percent higher than in 1995.

… The Bowker report follows a survey released last week from the Book Industry Study Group, which estimates that the actual number of books sold in 2004 dropped by 40 million from the previous year.

According to PW, that growth in title production has been driven mostly “by mid-sized and small publishers–and likely on-demand and vanity presses.”‘s analysis of the Bowker report also notes that “adult fiction, which accounted for 25,184 of the new titles in 2004, increased a hefty 43.1% from 2003, the highest jump ever recorded for the category.” Large houses, however, only contributed “modestly” to this growth, “increasing their output in the category only 3.5% from the previous year.” But, while the big houses”filled out their lists by releasing more titles in business, juvenile, law, sociology and travel,” they also cut back on literary fiction. “Nonetheless, the overall growth means that adult fiction now accounts for 14% of all titles published in the country.”


Bowker’s press release, which none of the above articles, for whatever reasons, link to, makes mention of several more “interesting statistics”:

  • 11,458 new publishers registered with the U.S. ISBN Agency in 2004, an increase of 5.3% over 2003.

  • 4,040 books were translated into English from another language, a decrease of 8.1% from 2003.
  • Novels published by the large trade houses averaged 359 pages in 2004, a growth of 24 pages since 1995, and 43 pages since 1990.

Back on the Ground.

GC just landed in L.A. for a week of family events & interactions. Any upcoming L.A. lit events we should be attending?

Upcoming Gift Sets, via PM’s Lunch Weekly Deluxe

The Neologist Gift Set:

Maureen O’Brien’s THE B MOTHER, exploring the choices families make, and the heroic act of being a Birth Mother, to Jennifer Charat at Harcourt, by Victoria Sanders, at Victoria Sanders & Associates (NA).

James Rapson and Craig English’s ANXIOUS TO PLEASE: 7 Revolutionary Practices to Overcome Chronic Niceness, uncovering the source of chronic niceness, and providing readers with an indispensable guide for lifelong change, to Bethany Brown at Sourcebooks, in a nice deal, by Andrea Hurst at Andrea Hurst & Associates (US).

The eventual-topic-of-your-children’s-therapy-sessions gift set:

Author of Pregnancy Sucks and Pregnancy Sucks for Men, Joanne Kimes’ GETTING YOUR BABY TO SLEEP SUCKS, BREASTFEEDING SUCKS, COLIC SUCKS, and POTTY-TRAINING SUCKS, extending her gritty honesty about motherhood to problem solving for early parenthood, to Kate Epstein at Adams Media, by Jeff Herman, in a nice deal (world).

The cognitive dissonance gift set:

Psychologist, motivational speaker, and Oprah favorite Dr. Robin Smith’s LYING AT THE ALTAR, asserting that couples routinely lie to each other, because that is what they are raised to do and because that often feels easier than telling the truth, offering the necessary tools for how to rebuild a relationship and break the habit of lying, to Bob Miller at Hyperion, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (world).

Couples therapist and author of The Truth About Love, Pat Love, Ed.D. and psychologist Stephen Stosny, Ph.D.’s HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR MARRIAGE WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT IT, which explains why the four words a man fears most are “Honey, can we talk?,” showing women (and men) a non-verbal approach to coping with fear and shame – the two unconscious emotions that are ultimately responsible for poor communication, fear of intimacy, addictions, affairs, abuse, and most divorce, to Kris Puopolo at Doubleday, at auction, by James Levine of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (world).

Giving Head

Good technique often comes down to repetition.
Good technique often comes down to repetition.
Good technique often comes down to repetition.
Good technique often comes down to repetition.
Good technique often comes down to repetition.

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Making Paris Burn … w/ Envy

Last month, FishBowlNY introduced news of ex-TPR editor Brigid Hughes’ involvement with a new ‘mystery’ publication. Now, a story off the AP shares the details: Hughes will be heading yet another lit journal, this time named A Public Space. Contributing editors will include Richard Powers and Yiyun Li, recent Iowa grad and (controversial) Plimpton prize-winner. Most of the interesting material, however, gets bunched together in a p’graph near the article’s end. (This is a p’grah, by the way, which GC finds very hard to read without visualizing Hughes in the process of reeling out the middle finger.)

Hughes says she is receiving financial support from the publishing, business and film communities and that her magazine will be funded through “private donors [ed. - Moody? That you?] , grants, subscription revenue and advertising.” She declines to offer a specific goal for her subscriber base, but aims for a higher number than at The Paris Review. An annual subscription will cost $30, for four issues, while individual copies will likely cost $10-12, compared to $40 a year for a subscription at The Paris Review and $12 for a single issue.

MetaMETABret Easton Ellismeta

There’s so many levels of meta here, I’m playing a conceptual game of Ice Climber just reading it:

Level 1: Jamie Clarke stalks Bret Easton Ellis.
Level 2: Clarke writes novel about said stalking.
Level 3: Bret writes novel about character named Bret.
Level 4: Novel describes Jamie writing about Bret, writing about Jamie.
Level 5: E ≥ MC2.