Monday, September 12, 2011
That's the basic origin story of this year's debut du jour, The Art of Fielding — a novel I've been describing to my friends as The Help for dudes. (I haven't read it yet, but my copy just arrived and I can't remember the last time I've been so excited to read a book.) And the piece that describes Harbach's odyssey from struggling mid-20s New Yorker to the toast of the literary world is one of the more interesting pieces of journalism I've read in a long, long time.
The article actually takes the form of an 18,000-word e-book written by Keith Gessen. It's an expanded version of an article that appears in the October issue of Vanity Fair. Gessen and Harbach went to Harvard together, remained close in their post-college years and founded n+1 (a Brooklyn-based literary journal) together.
All the Sad Young Literary Men a few years ago. I read it. It's okay. Not my favorite book ever, though.) and that of many of his publishing industry friends, Gessen discusses the health of the Big Six publishing houses, their often contentious relationship with Amazon, all that goes into marketing and publicity for novels, as well as how they're sold to bookstores, how a cover design comes to be, and what it's really like to be able to hear from your agent something like "Yes, David Pietsch, David Foster Wallace's editor, has said that if we accept Little, Brown's offer, he'll personally edit your book." How awesome is that?
How A Book Is Born costs $1.99 as an instant download from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. I can assure you, it's the best two bucks you'll spend this week. If you don't have a Nook or Kindle, you can download a Nook or Kindle app for your PC or Mac to read this piece on your computer; that's actually what I did. Isn't technology great?
Posted by Greg Zimmerman at 11:50 AM