In Which Pretty Freaky Argues Toward Beauty

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It was here, at Pretty Freaky, a provocative site developed by the writer, teacher, and artist (among other things) Elizabeth Collins that I discovered words that stopped me in my virtual tracks.  Collins was writing about Dangerous Neighbors, among other summer reads.  More to the point, however, she was writing about what gets published today: 
The author is a past finalist for the National Book Award but I actually felt irritated, reading the galley of this novel (sent to me for review), that such beautiful prose would probably not see the light of day if not for this author's past awards and a publisher willing to take a risk, as so few seem to be nowadays (which is sad and horrible for all of us, actually).

I am not sure that Kephart's scintillating words will be properly appreciated or speak to a huge audience of contemporary readers, though I sincerely hope they will, and if there is adequate or skilled marketing/PR, it will happen. But 'Dangerous Neighbors' should be read and hand-sold by booksellers, and sold by word of mouth promotion.
I quote Elizabeth at length because I have a point to make—a point to reiterate, I should say, about the fact that Egmont USA—adequate and then some, skilled beyond measure—is the publisher (urged along by editor Laura Geringer) who took the risk and made Dangerous Neighbors happen, who believes that books like this one still have a right to exist in this world.  Don't think that I took or take that for granted.  Don't think that I ever lean back on past books or good fortune and say to myself, Well, if you had that, you will also have this.  Don't think I see myself as having any edge up, because believe me, I do not.  We are all fighting out here—our hearts on our pages, our doubts a thick mist, the unknowns obscuring the knowns—and when we find a house like Egmont USA that takes a risk on a book like Dangerous Neighbors, we count ourselves extremely lucky.  When we find a blogger like Elizabeth Collins, who stands up other beauty-seeking books, other beauty-making authors, we know that we are in good company.  

4 comments:

Liviania said...

How did the partnership between Laura Geringer and Egmont USA work?

KFP said...

...but I actually felt irritated, reading the galley of this novel (sent to me for review), that such beautiful prose would probably not see the light of day if not for this author's past awards and a publisher willing to take a risk, as so few seem to be nowadays (which is sad and horrible for all of us, actually).

Once again, how well I know this feeling, this frustration, when I discover a beautiful book and want to scream "why aren't people paying attention?" You know I have always felt that way about your books.

I'm so hoping that people pay attention to you this time and then go back and pay attention to your past books as well. And then the future ones.

The September issue of The Writer talks about how it is indeed the small presses who are the ones now taking a chance on the beautiful.

So hooray Egmont and Laura Geringer and Elizabeth Collins.

Lilian Nattel said...

It isn't just taking a chance, it's recognition of what matters.

Elizabeth Collins said...

Thanks for this, Beth.

I have bemoaning the state of publishing for a while, the corporatization of publishing, when the few remaning houses are owned by two or three parent conglomerations. (I used to work for one!) Just as we fear the news media being taken over by a few rich guys, we should also be very worried about the book publishers.

Art should be produced for art's sake, which isn't happening much now. Beauty should be shared simply because it is beautiful. What is literature? Simply, perhaps, published writing that we all appreciate for its craft and insight.

Here's to hoping that more publishers start caring again about art, literature, and beauty,and not just the bottom line.

What is beautiful *will* sell if people realize it's for sale (again). The public *is* getting tired of the same old books saturating the marketplace, the (as I put it because I am an intellectual snob sometimes) stupid books they have been pumping out in droves simply because one of them sold really well a few years ago, and now they can't seem to think beyond that to what might sell next.

Anyway, I was worried when I wrote my original posting that it would come across as critical or strange, but I am truly glad that you understood it and were not offended! I certainly meant it as a good thing, and as a call for publishers to take risks because it can be worth it and also because it's the right thing to do.

So many people fancy themselves writers, but Beth, you are the real thing.

Best,

Elizabeth

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