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Posts Tagged ‘Random House’

One Writer's Trajectory — Multiple Rejections, A $1,000 Advance — And Now A Pulitzer And A Guggenheim

In Media on April 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm
HALLATROW, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 12:  Book...

Wanna be here, too? Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The life of a writer. So glamorous! Not.

Here’s today’s New York Times profile of author Paul Harding, whose novel “Tinkers”, recently won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction:

His manuscript languished in a desk drawer for nearly three years. But in perhaps the most dramatic literary Cinderella story of recent memory, Mr. Harding, 42, not only eventually found a publisher — the tiny Bellevue Literary Press — for the novel, “Tinkers,” he also went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last week. Within an hour of the Pulitzer announcement, Random House sent out a news release boasting of the two-book deal it had signed with Mr. Harding late in 2009. A few days later the Guggenheim Foundation announced he had received one of its prestigious fellowships.

The early rejection “was funny at the time,” Mr. Harding said. “And even funnier now.” Mr. Harding, a onetime drummer for a rock band, is far too discreet to name any of the agents or editors who wouldn’t touch his work a few years ago.

But he is quick to praise those who helped “Tinkers” become a darling of the independent bookstore circuit…

Although “Tinkers” sunk under the radar in some quarters (including The New York Times, which did not review it), it made several year-end best lists, including NPR’s best debut fiction and The New Yorker magazine’s list of reviewers’ favorites. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, “Tinkers” sold 7,000 copies before the Pulitzer announcement.

So many people are dying to write a book and the widespread belief is that “everyone has a book in them.” We all have a spleen and an appendix, but they, too are maybe not best shared with the world, either. Writing programs and classes are perpetually jammed with would-be writers, many of whom will suffer similar fates to Harding, without the Cinderella finale. Fiction writers, except for a tiny few, must write the entire book on their own time and dime, then try to sell it.

My first book, (sent out as most non-fiction is in proposal form only), received 25 rejections before being bought by Pocket Books. So did my second, before an editor at Portfolio, a Penguin imprint, liked it at once. You need a soul of Teflon to play this game, and a tough, smart, strategic determined agent when you can find one, at least for non-fiction, who is your work’s fearless, clear-eyed advocate.

It’s a lovely, happy ending for Harding, and will surely spur thousands of others to believe, “Me, too!

Cross your fingers. And toes.

Mistress/Demimondaine/Gold-Digger — Nice Role Model!

In men, women on April 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Gigi (1958 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I recently watched a classic film, the 1958 “Gigi”, directed by Vincente Minelli (father of Liza), starring Leslie Caron in the title role. You may have heard its best-known song, “Thank Heaven For Little Girls.”

I had no idea it carried all the emotional richness of a rancher looking across a feedlot — the singer is an aging roue looking for the latest crop of fresh, desperate ingenues to seduce and abandon. Nice.

The story is the careful, deliberate grooming of Gigi, an impoverished Parisian turn-of-the-2oth-century teenager, teaching her the skills she’ll need to snag and keep a rich man’s attention: pouring tea, flattery, lighting his cigar, laughing prettily at his jokes.

It’s assumed she’ll never marry, but can, and must, ride the coat-tails of his wealth and generosity.

It’s based on a novel by Colette and portrays the world of the demimondaines, literally those living in the “half world”, women living by their wits, charm and beauty on the margins of polite, bourgeois society — the one in which men marry the right women and dally with the rest.

A new memoir, Sugarbabe, by Australian writer Holly Hill, describes her own life in this world.

From Random House’s website:

“Attractive, professional, well-spoken, well-dressed 35-year-old woman seeks sugar daddy. I live in Darlinghurst on a 17th floor unit with fantastic skyline views to the harbour. The unit also features very discreet and secure undercover guest parking. I am looking for exclusivity so will (theoretically) be available to you 24 x 7. I am single and don’t have any children. I am also a fabulous cook and can provide gourmet meals should you require them. I am a qualified psychologist so I make an excellent listener, and I have a great love of conversation. I have also worked for many years in public relations so am a clever, charming companion in just about any situation. I love sex. I will require a generous weekly allowance in return for all of the above”.
Holly Hill (pseudonym) gave up her job at the behest of her wealthy boyfriend – and then found herself dumped and penniless. After spending six weeks in bed pining for her lost love, she was encouraged by a friend to be ‘open-minded’ about her career choices – and ended up placing an online ad for a sugar daddy. She received an almost overwhelming response from all sorts of men, but most of them were married men whose wives had lost interest in sex.
As Holly interviewed the men and settled on a candidate, she decided to record what happened next. Those almost-daily observations became a journal documenting Holly’s extraordinary experiences – not just the men she meets, but the things she finds out about marriages, in particular, and what men need from them.
SUGARBABE is her real-life account of the emails, meetings, employment of and interactions with the applicants for the role, and the five men she eventually chooses (not all at the same time!).

Should women take guys for whatever they can get?

Gentlemen, how do you feel about women who survive largely on the generosity of wealthy men?

The Stuff We Inherit, From Chairs To Pistols — Then What?

In antiques, design on March 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm
Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

One solution...Image via CrunchBase

What do you with your family’s stuff if you inherit some decent things and have to go through it all?

Sell it — on Ebay? Craigslist?  At auction? Donate it to Goodwill?

An intriguing new book, “Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family’s past, One Chair, Pistol and Pickle Fork at a Time”, delves into the subject. Lisa Tracy, a journalist, auctioned off many of these objects in 2003.

From The New York Times:

She still regrets aspects of the sale; prices were mostly a few hundred dollars. During the auction, she had hoped to tell buyers about the back stories: how her grandparents entertained on the Canton rose-medallion plates and collected wooden chests while posted with the American military in China and the Philippines, and how the protruding hardware on one trunk always snagged the clothing of anyone walking past.

But as Ms. Tracy approached successful bidders in the parking lot after the sale, they brushed her off politely. “I was so dashed by that,” she said during a recent interview at a Manhattan coffee shop. “But I realized people wanted to start investing their own stories in the pieces, about how they got it at this auction.”

Her book is part of a minitrend of literary memoirs based on longtime possessions. Last year the antiques restorer Maryalice Huggins’s “Aesop’s Mirror: A Love Story” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) described her inconclusive research into the origins of a gilded mirror dripping with high-relief fruit. In August Farrar, Straus will publish the British ceramist Edmund de Waal’s “Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss,” about his inherited collection of some 360 Japanese ivory carvings that were smuggled to safety during the Holocaust.

From Random House’s website:

After their mother’s death, Lisa Tracy and her sister, Jeanne, are left to contend with several households’ worth of furniture and memorabilia, much of it accumulated during their family’s many decades of military service in far-flung outposts from the American frontier to the World War Two–era Pacific. In this engaging and deeply moving book, Tracy chronicles the wondrous interior life of those possessions and discovers that the roots of our passion for acquisition often lie not in shallow materialism but in our desire to possess the most treasured commodity of all: a connection to the past.

What starts as an exercise in information gathering designed to boost the estate’s resale value at auction evolves into a quest that takes Lisa Tracy from her New Jersey home to the Philippines and, ultimately, back to the town where she grew up. These travels open her eyes to a rich family history characterized by duty, hardship, honor, and devotion—qualities embodied in the very items she intends to sell. Here is an inventory unlike any other: silver gewgaws, dueling pistols that once belonged to Aaron Burr (no, not those pistols), a stately storage chest from Boxer Rebellion–era China, providentially recovered family documents, even a chair in which George Washington may or may not have sat—each piece cherished and passed down to Lisa’s generation as an emblem of who her forebears were, what they had done, and where they had been. Each is cataloged here with all the richness and intimacy that only a family member could bring to the endeavor.

As someone unreasonably passionate about antiques, I get it. I love feeling connected to the past whenever I use my brass push-up candlesticks or sit on my 19th-century rush-seated painted chairs or use my 18th. century teapot — $3.50 in an upstate junk shop. I wear antique shawls and, as I write, a pair of green glass Deco-era drop earrings I found in an L.A. flea market for $40. My computer desk is covered with pale green ticking bought in the Paris flea market.

Worn and beautiful, well-made old things comfort and soothe me in a way no slick, shiny modern thing (OK, except my Itouch and Mac) can match.

I bought all of it.

We have very few inherited pieces, for a variety of reasons.

What objects have you inherited that you cherish — or couldn’t wait to dump?

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