Sunday, November 14, 2010

On "Publisher" by Corey Mesler (13,702 words) *****

Here's a story that in its youthful enthusiasm for literature and life and the female sex reminds me a little of John Fante. Reading it is a pleasure. But it's a story too of disappointment and of reading and the love of it. Our narrator is a man who wants a job in publishing. Locked out, however, he takes a job at a bookstore. And then, one day, he gets a break. He manages to get a job at . . . a vanity publisher.

But what vanity publishers are to writers they also prove in a way to be to editors. There are prices to be paid. What happens when you get your hands on a good book, one that deserves publication better than what you can offer? How far will you go for literature? And will in the end it matter?

I'm reminded of some of the unpublished work of friends and former classmates that I keep in files at home. Sometimes, I return to visit their stories. Sometimes, over the years, the writing has tarnished; what I thought so good twenty years ago, I now recognize wasn't. But other times, on rereading, I sit back rather amazed--and saddened--that the story never saw the light of day, and the writer gave up. Finding publication for good material (and then actually marketing that publication so that it finds an audience) is hard work, but it also involves a bit of luck. But maybe, in the end, even if only one reader appreciates a given piece, the author has still managed to convey something to do something special. Read the story here at the Workplace Anthology or here at Eclectica.


sloopie said...

Hello - I am Karen Carlson and Zin Kenter (trying to be more of the latter than the former, but it isn't easy - it's a long story) and I discovered your site about six months ago but only rediscovered it a couple of weeks ago. And I'm glad I did - I enjoyed Corey Mesler's "Publisher" so much, I ordered a signed print copy and have had a very nice conversation with him. I'm working my way through the rest of your five-star stories (the Cardboard Ship, wow, though I think it needs a better title, and I'm looking for Twenty Questions but the link is broken, I'm going through The Collagist which is a fun thing to do anyway, I'll find it.

But the coolest thing is that I found some of your work too - specifically, "Off the Map" and, wow. Really. I think I read Map three or four times before I determined I simply must move on and I'd come back to it again later, and then in Superstar indeed I did. I smell a chapbook. Seriously, Map is superb, structurally, emotionally. I'm going to put it on my site as a Great Online Read. Oh, feel free to visit, I am lonely and would love to chat with other readers, and say hello any time. Most of my blog right now is filled with writing exercises, but you might find something you missed in the Great Online Reads section, you never know, it's very small because I just started it a couple of days ago. I'm also working my way through BASS 2010 and just started Ha Jin's A Good Fall, those are in posts.

Anyway I have you on my frequent fliers list so I'll be visiting you a lot.

Short Story Reader said...

Dear Karen/Zin, Thanks for reading my blog. I'm glad that you've found some great writing that you like to read. I'll go back and update the 20 Questions link if I can find the new link (Googling the name and story often helps in that regard, though not if the story or journal is completely gone).

I'd been part of a short story reading group that went defunct. I started the blog in part with talking and sharing good stories in mind. The other part of me wanted to keep track of the reading I do and of the great stuff I've come across online.

As for my own writing, thanks much for the kind comments there. Indeed, "Off the Map" and "Next Superstar" are from a collection of 24 related stories, the other 22 of which are still looking for homes. One day, I will likely try to find a publisher for the whole collection.