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 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.
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.