Friday, September 19, 2008
Kissing a lot of frogs
As the old joke says, you've got to kiss a lot of frogs if you want to find a prince. At Select Editions, an editor has to read a lot of, well, not so good books before a good one shows up. And sometimes you despair of being able to enjoy reading ever again.
Think about it. One of us will have a pile of manuscripts on the desk, hiding our existence from the outside world. We start reading one. Our eyes glaze over. Maybe it gets better as you go along? It doesn't. We throw it out the window (figuratively) and start the next book. Our eyes glaze over. Maybe it gets better as you go along? It doesn't. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, except at some point the mail room dumps another pile of manuscripts on your desk just when you thought you might be able to see the light of day again.
And so you keep reading. And you begin to worry that maybe you're forgetting how to read. You've kissed so many frogs, you won't recognize a prince when he actually does appear. And the good news is, just about every time you get that feeling of despair, a book comes along out of nowhere and you're grabbed from page one and you love it and your faith is restored.
I'm speaking now from the experience of a few months ago. What was the book that brought me out of my bleakness? A thriller with a physics theme? A first novel? Written by some guy over at Scientific American? Yes, indeed. The book is Final Theory by Mark Alpert, and it's just been published in our latest volume. I'll only offer one warning about it: When you read it, make sure you've got a few free hours on hand, because there's no way you're going to be able to put it down until the last page.
Thank heavens there's still princes out there.