“Does This Book Jacket Make Me Look Fat?” That’s the title of an article I’ve written for Writer’s Digest that solicits opinions and anecdotes from several women writers about whether you need to be pretty to be popular in the publishing marketplace. Laura Lippman says, “It might get someone to pick up the book, but I’m not sure it can do much more than that,” while agent Ginger Clark reveals that “if your agent is positioning you as the next big literary fiction genius—and therefore making it clear she’s expecting people to bid high—she’s probably doing so with the added bonus of you being attractive.”
21 August 2006 | uncategorized |
David Long’s guest essay pretty much encapsulates what Beatrice is all about: introducing readers to writers. When I first saw his lists of what to read, I knew I wanted to find out more about where those lists came from…and he more than came through. I hope it’ll inspire you not only to read some of the writers he talks about, but his own recently published novel, The Inhabited World.
I started keeping track of the books I read in 1979—not a reading journal, just a list, month by month (I’m a big believer in externalizing memory). I also keep other lists: a big list of novels and story collections (with a few memoirs, etc.) that I recommend when anyone asks (and when they don’t); a list of books from outside the U.S. (most in translation); a list of my hundred all-time favorites, in order… and this year I broke down and cobbled together my “life list,” organized by year of publication (lovely way to spend a rainy weekend). The big list and the hundred faves are posted at my website, along with a new invention called “fives”: Five Czech novels; five short, odd novels; five good novels you may not have heard of; five skewed-reality novels, etc.
A few points:
- Except on the life list, it’s one book per writer. I have to keep thinking: What’s the one work I want someone else to read (not so tough when it’s Harper Lee, but what about Joyce Carol Oates?).
- I can change my mind. Fascinations fade; then again, some books surprise you by how deeply they root themselves in your reading life.
- These are not lists of Best Books. There’s a multitude of great novels and story collections I’ve never read (or read and don’t much like). No, this is my list; it’s biased, personal. These are works that still get under my skin. These are the ones that have marked me, that have sprung me from the here and now, or taught me what art is capable of—that have, in fact, become indispensable to my life as an artist.
20 August 2006 | guest authors |