Sunday, January 29, 2012

Push Those Shopping Carts Hard Suckers

“It would be like ‘The Road,’ ” one publishing executive in New York said, half-jokingly, referring to the Cormac McCarthy novel. “The post-apocalyptic world of publishing, with publishers pushing shopping carts down Broadway.”

Personally, i can't wait. The publishing industry, in my experience, has combined the worst sort of clubbish, insider elitism with a head in the sand lack of vision and courage. They don't deserve to prosper. Open the floodgates and let the people decide, i say. I will always remember my meeting with Robert McCrumb of Faber and Faber in London when i was trying to publish my first attempt at novel writing, a book called Strange How i Miss You, half memoir, half travelogue. Mr. McCrumb took me into his office and shook my hand and said he liked my manuscript but would never publish it. My problem was I was an unknown writer and therefore unpublishable. How does that work, I wondered to myself. Keep writing, said McCrumb. A couple of years later he suffered a heart attack and retired, a relatively young guy. I guess the pressures of living and working in such a Kafkaesque atmosphere got to him. Then, amidst the flood of rejection letters, there was one, from the head of Random House at the time, a Jacob Epstein. He said he liked Strange How I Miss You, but it read very much like a travelogue. It is a blanking travelogue, I yelled aloud when i read the letter. We were living in a shed in the west of Ireland with no running water or electricity. My wife just looked at me and shook her head.
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