Friday, January 27, 2006

Getting It Right

Every once in a while, the world of publishing gets it just right and a gem of book renews my faith in the whole industry.

In fact, I think we should all quit talking about the schmuck Frey and start talking about an author who deserves all kinds of great conversations—Marilynne Robinson.

Now this is a writer worth talking about and her novel GILEAD is, in a word, exquisite.

Too bad Ms O didn’t choose her book to re-launch her book club because it truly deserves a million little copies sold.

It’s easy to lament about the state of publishing—I’ve been guilty of it myself. That it’s really hard for a new literary voice to break out, that editors are gut-less and only want the next what I call “pop literary” or in more specific publishing terms “upmarket commercial literary” like Sue Monk Kidd or Khalid Hosseini.

In fact, I have two gorgeous and well-shopped literary novels sitting on my shelves right now. Lots of compliments but no offers to buy.

It’s easy to get jaded.

And then I read a book like GILEAD and I’m instantly re-affirmed that yes, we are getting it right.

Such a treasure of buried truths regarding our internal lives. When something strikes me while reading, I tend to earmark the page. I had so many post-it notes throughout this book; I finally had to give it up.

Economical too. It is 246 pages and feels far weightier than that number would imply.

This is a work I predict that people will be reading 50 or 100 years from now as they do Hurston or Hemingway now.

Whereas Mr. Frey and so many others will be long forgotten.