Thursday, 17 April 2008

Pure as the driven slush

There's an interesting post by Mary Jones on the Picador blog, about slush piles (which gives me the opportunity to recycle in my title Tallulah Bankhead's pitiless analysis of herself). If you read it, don't miss my comment.

Talking about slush piles, I have the honour of having been winkled out from one, many years ago, by Neil Belton, or whoever did his preliminary reading for him, when he was at Cape. He held onto the novel for many months, trying to persuade the paperback division that they wanted to publish it as much he did. He didn't, alas, succeed, but the fact that he found, and supported, the book - sent cold, complete and without an agent - is very much to his credit. And it's proof that, at least once, a manuscript did make it from the pile to an enthusiastic editor's desk, even if it went no further.

5 comments:

Wendell Ricketts said...

"... a sentimental literary cliché to go alongside the idea of the lonely writer sitting in their garret."

Which might well accompany the cliché of the lonely singular possessive pronoun going along with the singular noun referent....

Charles Lambert said...

Well, yes, it is a problem, but I think I prefer this solution to the his/her one (assuming of course that all those lonely writers weren't men...

Chancelucky said...

I've come to appreciate Rusty Barnes at Night Train. Even though he's never taken one of my stories, he makes a habit of saying something about the story and why it didn't fit for his magazine. Apparently he does it for most everyone who submits. It's a very rare thing.

The Picador bit is probably true about the general contents of the slush pile, but on the other hand someone found Charles Lambert that way.
As awful as slushpile guardians make it sound, it's also clear to me that you generally know within a couple paragraphs or certainly within two pages if you have a story/manuscript that has much of a chance.
I'm just grateful that the slushiples still exist as a place where there is a chance fo the unknown writer to get seen (read).

btw Charles,
that Pope guy has been running around my country the last few days, any time you want him back do let us know.

Charles Lambert said...

You're absolutely right. I'm sure that something good will sooner or later be plucked from a slush pile, if only because it shines through the surrounding dross. Good for Rusty, though!

Charles Lambert said...

PS You can keep him. For as long as you want. For ever.