Lunch Break

Okay, so I have a monster headache and am busier than hell at work, which has made catching up on reading my fave blogs difficult, though I am using it as a break every once in a while from the monotonous work I have to do to keep me sane. So I've decided to use my lunch break to blog since I know I'll continue to be busier than hell after I eat. Anybody else hate their jobs too? If so, feel free to rant in my comments, I'm sure I'll emphasize.

I'm very excited about this interview and the upcoming release of Charles' Frazier's Thirteen Moons in October! Some of my favorite parts of the interview:
Frazier published "Cold Mountain," his debut novel, in 1997. He was 46. He had quit teaching at a local university to write it, after his wife, Katherine, told him, "You don't want to wake up at 65 and wonder what kind of book you would have written."
That gives me hope, I have quite a few years before I hit 46. Plus, what an awesome partner to support her husband in fulfilling his dream, even though it meant a loss in income. I know that I have just as amazing of a partner in my hubby who is willing to move with me where ever my schooling and passions will take me!

"Cold Mountain" was riveting, though too meticulously written to be a page-turner in the usual sense: reading it was a steep hike, rather than a walk in the woods. Frazier hoped there might be 10,000 Southerners who'd buy it. But even without the divine agency of Oprah, the novel has become a modern classic, with more than 4 million copies in print. Today, outside Cherokee, Frazier passes a restaurant that his work obviously inspired: Inman's Cold Mountain Cafe. When it's pointed out that a lot of authors have given the American people great books, but not a lot have given them all the pancakes they can eat for $3.99, Frazier laughs and nods, looking slightly embarrassed. "I've contributed," he says.

I totally agree about the way Cold Mountain was written, it wasn't a page turner in the typical sense, yet I don't remember it being a difficult read by any means. I got so wrapped up in the intricate plot that I couldn't wait to find out what happened next and finished the book rather quickly. I think the way Frazier played out the love story was so intense because of it's almost lack of intensity in the interactions between Inman and Ada. I loved how shy both of them were and that they truly loved very intensely but couldn't show it, but then war forces those feelings up and forces people to truly evaluate what is important to them. Also, I thought that little story about the Inman's Cold Mountain Cafe was too cute.

"Thirteen Moons" before coffee one morning. Random House paid $8.25 million for it, and producer Scott Rudin ponied up $3 million for the movie rights. Frazier was admonished in some newspapers for leaving the small publisher, Grove Atlantic, that had discovered him, though he's still friends with his former editor. (Grove had bid $6 million in partnership with Vintage paperbacks.) It was not an entirely pleasant time for such a private person, although, sure, there are worse problems a guy could have. "I called my mother after the deal was done and I said, 'There may be some stuff in the papers about this'," says Frazier. "She said, 'Oh, I already know. I saw it on the crawl on CNN'."


Even now, after advance raves for the new novel, there is still the occasional snipe in the media about Frazier's rich deal—evidence of our peculiar, self-fulfilling notion that art should never sell and that only hacks should get the big bucks. "All that stuff about money - I sort of understand where it comes from. Do I like it? No, I don't, but it comes with the territory," says Frazier. He's sitting in a coffee lounge, waiting for a meeting about a translation project he's funding to render portions of the novel into Cherokee, part of an initiative to keep the language alive. "I saw something that said I was 'the symbol of greed in the publishing industry.' I'm not the one who decided what the offers were gonna be on the book. And it's not like I went into this just looking to take the highest offer." Several offers were in the same vicinity, he says, but the strength of Random House's marketing team was a factor. The publisher could hardly be handling the novel with more gravitas. These days, when Frazier says something goofy to his family - —when he relates a joke from "South Park," say - —his 20-year-old daughter, Annie, will needle him by intoning, "An American master returns!"
I definitely have some mixed feelings about the whole controversy over Frazier's book deal. I have to admit, I'm fairly naive about the publishing world, though I have been trying to learn, but I don't truly understand what the hoop-lah is about. I know, small publisher's need all the support that they can get, but wouldn't Anybody try to go with a bigger publisher just for the reason Frazier stated? They can reach more people, can't they? I'm not trying to justify big publishers morally or saying that's how the system should work, but isn't it hard enough to become a published author, let alone a successful published author? Wouldn't any author do all that they can do to get the best book deal for their own interest? It even sounds like Frazier's still friends with the people at the small publisher, so I'm Really not sure why there was so much criticism of him over it. Like I said though, I don't know a whole lot about the history or the current world of publishing, so I realize I may be missing parts of this picture.

I do love that his family can ride him a little bit about his success from Cold Mountain, if your family can't, who can? It's good they keep him grounded though, I like that.

Overall, I loved the interview and it has gotten me very pumped up to read Thirteen Moons... hopefully by the time it comes out I'll actually have time to read for pleasure then!!

Alrighty, back to the deathtrap that is work. And my headache was just going away too, damn.


Elizabeth said...

Great post, Mai Wen! My feeling about big book deals? More power to the authors who can command them! It means the years of loneliness and cheap beer has finally paid off.

Why don't we just celebrate each other's success? Instead we hide jealousy behind petty comments like "artists who make too much money can't really be making art." Like writing something that connects with a lot of people is somehow a bad thing?


mai wen said...

Thanks Elizabeth, I totally agree. I mean, you Know people don't go into a career as a writer (quitting your job to do it!) for the money!!


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