Anna Genoese talks about GLBTQ publishing and genre fiction, and why it might be better from a publishing standpoint to write a genre-marketable book with queer characters than to market one’s book as “queer fiction.” For a counterpoint, focused on literary fiction, see Edmund White’s Village Voice article on the recent flowering of gay fiction (via Bookslut).
Also via Bookslut and regarding gay fiction: Neil Gaiman reviews Alan Moore’s forthcoming Lost Girls, a graphic novel which has upset the hospital which owns the rights to J. M. Barrie’s estate. To his credit, Alan Moore doesn’t seem to care. I think the book sounds stunning.
I’ve finished scanning my grandmother’s memoir and am correcting the text — I’m about a third of the way done with it. As I work I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with the manuscript: revise it? Rewrite it substantially? Fictionalize it? In this interview with Alice Munro (yet again, via Bookslut — can you tell I’m catching up on my blog-reading?), she talks about writing her most recent book, partially based on the history of her family:
Q: The View from Castle Rock draws upon material relating to both your paternal ancestors and your personal recollections. In your 1994 “Art of Fiction” interview with Paris Review, you spoke of how William Maxwell had written about his family in Ancestors, and you said: “He did the thing you have to do, which is to latch the family history onto something larger that was happening at the time—in his case, the whole religious revival of the early 1800s. . . . If you get something like that, then you’ve got the book.” Might you comment on this in regard to your new collection?
A: I think that that’s very helpful, because otherwise what you’ve got is family history, and that’s very interesting to you and other members of your family perhaps, but not generally. This book has a lot to do with a certain part of Scotland which had also undergone an interesting religious phenomenon, although not exactly a revival. The Protestant faith there had taken hold in a very austere form, and it had a total effect on people’s lives.
With my grandmother’s story, the two strongest thematic threads are the experience of the Depression, and her care for and obsession with animal welfare and environmentalism; the Depression history is more gripping, though based on the manuscript’s wacky final chapter, I suspect my grandmother would’ve chosen to emphasize her fears about the future of the environment. Still, I need to think more about how to evoke the breadth and meaning of which Munro speaks.
I read Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial a few days ago, and am just finishing Julia Child’s My Life in France — both of them have me thinking about how to manage large chunks of exposition. Child’s book has the looseness of dictated memoir; Gorodischer sets up an equally loose episodic structure, jumping centuries between chapters. My grandmother’s manuscript, in its current form, goes beyond loose and episodic to completely messy, and it’s her management of exposition, I think, that will require the most work. When she writes scenes she generally does them well.
And now I’m off to finish Julia Child’s book and daydream about cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. More later.