Archive | March, 2012

London Calling.

26 Mar

The city of London is calling. And yet, this time around it’s strictly for business purposes. I am heading overseas for the London Book fair. For anyone who is not familiar with the purpose of the fair, it is a terrific means of connecting with editors and other agents, and is an avenue to promote books within the industry. I have spent the last few weeks preparing the material I will need to present during those three days. Yes, the fair is actually only three days, but three very long days, consisting of editor/agent meetings and forging new business connections. I am overcome with anticipation, as I am thrilled to get out there and promote my clients work. I am going in with a very strong list, and can only hope that my time spent at the fair will be lucrative, and will result in many new and wonderful business partnerships. Another reason why I am keen to attend, is because it’s hard to get a sense of how the international market is faring from over here in Toronto, and I hope to come out of the book fair having a clearer idea of the big picture.

Although the fair itself is a mere three days, my travels are taking me to the UK for three weeks. Outside of the book fair dates, the rest of my time will be spent meeting with more editors, authors, and publishers. Like I mentioned previously, the loveliest part of my job is having that personal contact with my authors. My UK/European client list is expanding, and so it will be nice to touch base with some new and potential clients. I will be spending a few days in Edinburgh, as I have a client there that I wish to visit. I am also very much looking forward to meeting with an editor from Canongate, as it has always been a dream of mine to work with that publishing house. Building and maintaining these relationships plays such a pivotal role in what I do. It’s through these well crafted connections that other connections are born.

I will be MIA for a bit, but my next post(s) will cover my experiences at the fair, and I will do my very best to keep on top of my April book review. Knowing my schedule in advance, I am only packing two books with me for this trip. One for the airplane journey, and the other for the train/tube rides.

 

 

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The Waterproof Bible

19 Mar

I had promised a review of Tinkers this month, but when I committed to attending this month’s book club meet hosted by my intern, I quickly changed tracks and started in on Andrew Kaufman’s The Waterproof Bible. Mr. Kaufman first grabbed my attention back in the early 2000’s when I attended a Coach House reading event at the Jane Bond (in my old neighborhood of Waterloo). He was reading an excerpt from his first book entitled All My Friends Are Superheroes, and within a mere second or two, another Kaufman fan was born.

Like his previous work, this book speaks to the similar theme of ordinary people exhibiting extraordinary physical and or emotional abilities, and what occurs as their lives are put under a magnifying glass. The result is an array of perplexing and fantastical events…a continuous stream of absurd, yet delightful encounters between the characters as their individual stories unfold.

Straight away we are introduced to Rebecca Reynolds, a woman incapable of containing her true feelings from the world. Every emotion she feels, is automatically projected onto others. Attaching special meaning to particular things, she currently rents a storage unit that is full from top to bottom with these items. Rebecca has just lost her younger sister Lisa, and on our first introduction, she is harbouring (and projecting) large quantities of hatred for her brother-in-law Lewis. There are several reasons why she hates Lewis, the main reason being he was unable to save her sister.

Lewis is the widowed husband of Lisa, and when we first come to know him, he is reluctantly battling his own demons. Lewis recognizes that he should be immersed in grief, and yet he’s struggling to feel all that he is supposed to. After a bizarre and unexpected encounter with an amphibian woman, Lewis decides to surrender to his ambiguous feelings, and ditches his wife’s funeral and adopts a nomadic lifestyle instead.

We soon come to realize that Rebecca has an estranged husband, Stewart, who is currently residing in an unfrequented Inn situated in the random locale of Morris, Manitoba. Stewart is inflicted by pangs of grief, doubt, uncertainty etc. He is still grappling with the estrangement from his wife Rebecca, and has taken to devoting all of his time and energy to the construction of a boat…in a place that is currently suffering from an extended drought.

The amphibian woman is on a personal quest of her own. She is seeking to be reunited with her land dwelling Mother, the Mother who deserted her as a child so that she could live like the humans and breathe hot air, instead of water, through her gills. Her Mother Margaret, who just happens to be the owner of the Inn, has become Stewart’s confidant, and only source of emotional support. Stewart cannot seem to put his finger on it, but he suspects that there is something unusual about Margaret. For one, her age is completely unknown to him. Margaret could be anywhere between her late thirties to mid seventies…and what could be the cause of her unearthly green skin tone?

With multiple narratives, and no shortage of quirky and humorous plot twists, The Waterproof Bible is a sheer delight to read. My only complaint, is that the somber topics in the narrative are not given their due when it comes to the finale of the book. Like a typical feel good film, the ending sees all of the characters achieving their happy outcome. Although the wrap up was a bit too sentimental and polished for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the momentous climax of the book…not to mention the aquatic back story, replete with aquatic biblical references and a fictional language only spoken by those that live beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean. There is much to be enjoyed within the pages of this book…and I recommend you dig in for yourself.

Noteworthy Correspondence

12 Mar

It is Monday afternoon, and I know what I should be doing. I should be working. I depart for London at the end of the month, and I have an absurd amount of work to finish between now and then. I should be working on edits. I should be working on the updated TRF catalogue. I should be responding to queries, and work emails. I should be…

Instead, I have been glued to this website: http://www.lettersofnote.com

Thanks to my daily update from S&Co., I have spent the last hour perusing the most popular correspondence between musicians and fans, writers and editors, writers and the ASPCA…

Most notable, is a letter written by John Steinbeck to his editor and pal, Pascal Covici. In this letter, Mr. Steinbeck shares his insightful and witty thoughts on the publishing process, where in his opinion the book is “kicked and slashed and gouged” before it ever makes its way into the hands of the readership.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/book-is-like-man.html

I believe most writers feel this way, and when I think about the heavy bouts of edits I put my clients through, it’s a wonder any of them still speak to me! But like I tell all of my clients, my sole purpose as an editor is to strengthen the manuscript so that it is in top form for submission. So, although it may seem as though I am slashing and gouging a manuscript, in truth, I am making the necessary changes so that the manuscript will be well received by its desired readership. When I edit, I edit as a reader. Being an agent nowadays requires a diverse skill set. To be an agent in this industry, one has to be an avid reader, an editor, a writer, a sales person…and the list goes on. As the industry continues to change (as it is sure to do so), we will see agents adopting even more skills. It makes our jobs extremely challenging, but also very rewarding. With the wrap-up of each work day, no matter how stressful or challenging the days events were, I can at least say that my job is never boring. I am extremely grateful for that.

Hey Ma, I’m Home

9 Mar

I am fortunate enough to work with a diverse, and lovely bunch of authors. Two of my most creative, and zany clients just happen to be related to one another. I work with a Mother and Daughter writing team, who have compiled a set of Mother-Daughter correspondence that they wrote to one another while living under the same roof. Hey Ma, I’m Home came to life when the daughter moved back in with her Mother, as she tried to secure work overseas. Prior to the daughter taking up residence in her old bedroom, the Mother had been relishing the freedom that comes from an empty nest…and was startled to say the least when she realized the sanctuary, that was once her home, was soon to be invaded and turned upside down in ways she could only dream (or rather, have nightmares) about.

The result of this sharing of communal space is a series of comical and touching correspondence that will not only make you laugh, but will also speak to the many generations who currently are, or have been at some point, in the same boat.

Lucky for you, they have continued this correspondence even though the daughter now resides in the UK and have created a blog that showcases some of the old material, and contains weekly updates as they find new and quirky ways to enlighten and annoy one another from across the pond. If you are looking to have a daily chuckle, you should sign up to follow their blog here: http://heymaimhome.wordpress.com/

World Book Day

2 Mar

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” -Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It is World Book Day today in the UK, Ireland and I believe the US is participating this year as well. World Book Day is a celebration of reading, with the goal of inspiring children to read, with the hope that they will discover the joy that comes from reading books…leaving them hooked on books. To accomplish this, schools and nurseries will be provided with packs of book tokens and age-ranged resource packs, so that every child has access to a book. We are talking about millions of book vouchers here. More than 14 million in fact. My childhood would have been very different if I had not been introduced to the world of books at an early age, and when I say different, I mean lonely. So, hooray for World Book Day! Like Dr. Seuss says “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.” It’s so true, and what better time to start a life long affair with learning, then to do it at an early age when the wonder of life still fills you with awe.

With the topic of reading on the brain, I am starting to get rather excited by the prospect of reading a book a month so that I can review it on here. I recently delved into a copy of Tinkers by Paul Harding, and look forward to sharing my thoughts on it with you. One of my clients recommended this book to me, and so far I am glad I picked up a copy. I have a growing list of books I want to tackle this year, and am starting to compile a wish list in terms of my monthly read. Via the post, I just received a copy of Vanessa Farquharson’s Sleeping Naked is Green, and cannot wait to break in the spine on that book.

Thanks to Shakespeare and Co., I was introduced to this great list of books. It’s the 10 new must-reads for March determined by the folks at Flavorwire.
http://flavorwire.com/264575/10-new-must-reads-for-march
I envy the readers who will devour all of these titles in the month of March. I already have my book for March, but will keep these titles in mind for future reviews.