While in New York in April, I went to the city's beautiful library:
It was only mildly disappointing, on walking through the reading room, to discover that almost everyone there was checking their Facebook page.
Downstairs, there was an exhibition about Percy Bysshe Shelley. It included fragments of Mary Shelley's manuscript of Frankenstein, with his editorial annotations, plus diaries from his schooldays, memoirs of schoolfriends, (apparently "The expression of his countenance was one of exceeding sweetness and innocence"), and this book, which, although printed during his lifetime, seems to have been included more to amuse than inform:
The impression it was hard not to form by the end of the exhibition was that Shelley, despite having written one of the few poems in the English language that practically commits itself to memory without effort, (I'm thinking of the beautiful Ozymandias; the only other I've come across that comes close in terms of ease of learning is Yeats's Second Coming), was a spoilt bombast who went through life strewing emotional chaos and misery around him. However, if you had already looked at the first item on display in the exhibition, this could hardly have come as a great surprise:
If you're given pure gold and coral to cut your teeth on, your sense of entitlement will surely be so ingrained by the time you reach adulthood that you cannot avoid being insufferable.
I wrote a novel that the London literary agency Sheil Land tried to sell for me. One publisher thought it was "compelling". Another said, "It’s pacy and gripping, and the plot is great." A third commented that it "is a warm, engaging and easy read", while a fourth considered that, "It is a good story (stories) well told". If you want to see what you think, you can find it here.
I wrote a novel that Sheil Land represented, unsuccessfully. One publisher thought it was "compelling, but it wouldn’t be easy to categorize – it is somewhere between ‘literary’ and ‘commercial’, and would need to be one or the other to be pitched for successfully in an acquisition meeting." Another said, 'It’s pacy and gripping, and the plot is great, but it lacks that lighter women’s fiction feeling. The writing is undeniably good but I’m not quite sure how I would position it on our list.'A third commented that it "is a warm, engaging and easy read but this ‘middle market fiction’ is a really tough area', while a fourth considered that, "It is a good story (stories) well told, but just missing the X-factor that would make me fall in love with it." I wanted to write an entertaining novel that I would like when I was in the mood for something thoughtful & amusing that I could enjoy without too much effort. If you would like to read it yourself, you can find it at http://cargocollective.com/Unrealities/Holding-On-a-novel.
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