I have written a novel.
For very long-time readers, this won't be a surprise. For actual readers, maybe so. Unfortunately, I had less success getting it published. My final bid was the major independent publisher Milkweed Editions, who decided to pass after subjecting it to a thorough editorial review (not just the slush pile reader, who as in many other cases, rejected it outright). In any case, I have, undaunted, decided that it's worth putting out there, damn the embarrassment and shame that comes with self-publishing. Art is, after all, a communication, not a product. There's something deeply depressing about the prospect of this thing moldering in the basement.
In fact, my failure to publish is predictable. First-time authors are doom for an industry in which 79% of books fail to sell even a hundred copies. Some yokel from Oregon with no history as a writer and no name to draw readers is a longshot from the start. Anything short of Midnight's Children and I knew it was going to be rough going. (My novel, which I will get to shortly, is good, but it's no Midnight's Children.) And so it was. (The alternative explanation, that it's no damn good, I reject on objective grounds: it is good.)
And now we come to the commercial portion of the post. I would like you, dear readers--both of you--to skip on over and buy a copy. It's a good book, honest. It has nothing to do with politics, but knowing as I do that you are sensitive, insightful, and wise, I think you will enjoy its timeless themes of love, longing, and loss and its historic sweep as it charts the life and times of a poor family from the Ozarks in this multi-generational saga. Or anyway, it evokes this emotional heft. Rather, it's about a cab driver who's trying to make a 16mm short. Still.
I'll include a description below, but I would, in all seriousness, love it if you picked up a copy. An unread novel is a terrible thing.
And don't forget--they make great gifts!
The Puddle Variations
Walking Man Press, 2007, 260 pages.
What portion of a 16mm movie can be made for $1,000? Or, put another way, how does one turn a thousand dollars into a 30-minute short? This is the question confronting Charlie di Paulo, who has just received a seed grant from the Portland Film Institute to shoot his 16mm film. For a 26-year-old cab driver, a thousand dollars is a lot of cash, yet it won’t even cover the cost of his film stock.
Money isn’t Charlie’s only problem. His new girlfriend and his stepfather, Vic, are both convinced he should be pursuing his dream through more conventional means, and Vic has offered to pay for film school. For Charlie, whose 8mm short was good enough to win him the grant, education isn’t necessary—money is. As the book unfolds, he sets about trying to raise the money and mount the production, and along the way he receives support in various forms from the local doyenne of independent film, a cobbler, a philosophy student, and a bookie.