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Wanted: Agent Who Likes Arson, Leaves and Stories of Financial Malfeasance

August 7th, 2010 Comments off
I’m looking for a new agent. I hate looking for an agent. Maybe some agent will read this before I even start the process of reaching out to people. Maybe they’ll magically, send me an email saying that they’d love to represent me. Like the magical love affair in a sweet and simple book. I’m still trying to sort out which book I want to send out next. It’s either going to be High of Sixty, about a bankrupt bill collector hiding out in Alaska, or Powdered Milk, about a reporter covering a series of arsons in Connecticut. I finished rereading both over the last two weeks. I hadn’t read Powdered Milk in a year or so. It’s a funny but ultimately very disturbing book. It’s strange for me to have written something so unsettling. Not that I haven’t written lots of dark stories. But I’d forgotten how slowly but deeply the strangeness in Powdered Milk reveals itself. I forget a lot about much of what I write. Not sure that’s normal or not. But so be it. I haven’t written a blurb or pitch or synposis for Powdered Milk yet. It’ll go something like this, though:
Powdered Milk is a novel about arsons, and the newspaper reporter covering them in three isolated Connecticut towns. It is a novel about secrets. It is a novel about sex. It is, in the end, a novel about submarines, love, fire and Monty Breel, a 31-year-old reporter for the local bi-weekly called The Gazette. And it is a novel about leaves. Lots and lots of leaves.
Who wouldn’t want to read that? The High of Sixty pitch is looking something like this:
High of Sixty is the story of a bankrupt bill collector hiding from his debts in a dark, forgotten office building in Juneau, Alaska. It’s a book about the awkwardness of friendship, the loss of wealth, unforgivable mistakes and a bad love affair. It’s a book that, at least in part, is meant to be funny. And it’s a book about Carter’s aunt lighting his uncle on fire at the holidays. It is a book about inter-office memos printed in the waxy purple ink of old mimeograph machines. It is a book about sneaking on board cruise ships to sip tequila and do the rhumba.
So many choices.

I have never seen Footloose

July 31st, 2010 Comments off
I have never seen Footloose. This seems important to me right now, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that I’m finishing a manuscript, a novel, that’s a relatively disturbing story. I wrote it many years ago, and am editing some parts now, and may start sending it out to agents soon. Few of the characters in the book, called Powdered Milk, would have ever been interested in seeing Footloose. Few of them would have watched Friends. I’ve never seen an episode of Friends. I’ve never seen Top Gun. Most people my age have. Maybe I’m wondering how my writing would be different if I had been interested in seeing these particularly age-defining movies and shows. Maybe I’m wondering if exposure to Top Gun would mean that I wouldn’t, once again, be looking for an agent, if I were more in touch with popular culture. It’s a powerful movie, it seems. People still talk about it these many years later. I once told a friend of mine that I’d never seen Friends. He called me Un-American. He was only partly joking. None of which is to say that I don’t enjoy many, many mainstream movies or popular TV shows. I’ve gladly watched virtually every episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants with my children. I’ve watched each of the Star Wars movies more time than I’ll willingly admit. But Footloose, it seems so happy. Friends as well. I’ve seen clips, I’ve heard people talk about these shows. People I know and like. They get a certain joy out of watching Footloose. Out of repeating bits and pieces of a favorite episode of Friends. Good and simple and popular stories, it seems, that people like very much. Sometimes I think I want to write very different fiction from what I do now. Science Fiction, maybe. Something purely funny. Or a heart-warming tale of youthful rebellion. Set to music. But I’d have to use a different name, I come to realize. Otherwise it wouldn’t be me.
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