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Posts Tagged ‘Marisha Pessl’

How Marisha Pessl Found Her Literary Agent

Elle Magazine ran a long profile of Special Topics in Calamity Physics author Marisha Pessl this month.

Pessl has a new book called Night Film coming out on August 20th, and the profile explored how she landed an agent for her debut novel. She would end up with a $615,000 advance for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, according to the article. Check it out:

In 2004, Pessl cold-e-mailed 15 literary agents about her novel, including Susan Golomb, who represents Jonathan Franzen. Golomb was charmed by Pessl’s note—in particular, by her blurbworthy description of her own work: “a funny, encyclopedic and wildly ambitious literary tale about love and loss, youth and yearning, treachery and terror” … In 2008, Pessl left Golomb for superagent Binky Urban, whose agency, ICM, has a strong Hollywood division. (Bret Easton Ellis and Cormac McCarthy are among Urban’s clients.) Then she changed publishers, moving to Random House. “I happened to meet Binky Urban socially, and it just seemed like a very nice fit, the two of us,” Pessl said of the agent who reportedly secured her a $1 million deal for Night Film and a $1.5 million deal for a yet-to-be-written third novel.

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Why David Blum Should Get Out More

The snark fairy very much wants to point out how difficult it may be to take seriously the opinion of someone who so haplessly ran the Village Voice into the ground, but there’s plenty of evidence showing just the logic flaws in David Blum‘s New York Sun opinion piece about the fortunes of Joshua Ferris‘s debut novel THEN WE CAME TO THE END truly is.

First is Blum’s question as to why the book “did not become a New York Times bestseller”: Sure, it didn’t appear on the print list, but came very close – hitting #19 on the April 18th extended list. Second, Blum’s excursion into the Lincoln Square Barnes & Noble indicates he hasn’t been outside his neighborhood radius in a while. “What if bookstores created sections devoted to that week’s best-reviewed books,” he asks? I see that all the time in more regional superstores, those in Canada and – oh yeah! the independents. And what of “posted positive reviews alongside the books themselves?” That’s why the shelftalker was invented, Mr. Blum.

Then there’s the comparison to Kurt Andersen’s HEYDAY – a second novel from a longtime journalist with plenty of platform – which only makes sense from a timing standpoint and even then is quite the reach. If Blum’s memory allowed him to go back to when Marisha Pessl‘s SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS had NYTBR cover treatment – and a stint on the bestseller list as high as #6 – then perhaps the piece might have carried more weight. Or more recently, Jon Clinch’s debut novel FINN, which had even more review love all over newspapers and didn’t even make it onto the extended list.

So no wonder Reagan Arthur “got depressed” at Blum’s questioning when the book did fairly well and turned a profit – and more importantly, probably earned out long before publication because buying world rights yielded foreign sales fruit.

Special Topics in Celluloid Physics

Just when we think Marisha Pessl can finally find some peace and quiet and work on her next novel, along comes yet more news. First there was that recent New York Times article on her propensity for painting in her spare time (“Painting is wordless. It’s so nice to have the silence, to just express things visually”) and now comes word from Variety that SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS has been optioned for the big screen by Miramax and Scott Rudin. I’m actually surprised it took this long, but a movie version seemed almost inevitable from the time the book deal was inked way back when…Ron just wants to know if the finished product is going to be saddled with an erudite-sounding voiceover in order to replicate the novel’s most celebrated qualities. But then Ron hasn’t been a fan of cinematic narration at all this century except for the Lemony Snicket movie and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which, now that we think of it, were both adaptations as well).