Work Title: Book Pursuits
Work Author(s): Alex Moore
Byline: Alex Moore
There's Wii, TiVo, XBox, PlayStation, DVDs, and for the non-ambulatory---Netflix. For those trapped in airports, there's Wi-Fi, Palm Treo, BlackBerrys, as well as MySpace, YouTube, iPods, iTunes, and Looney tunes. One wonders when anyone has time to read. If there is, there's an internal scrum between must-reads, fast reads, friend-reads ("Great book, read it"), postponed-reads ("I'll get to it someday"), honey-reads ("Honey, please read this book -- for us"), and boss-reads (sotto voce: "Read this and maybe you'll be around next month").
If there's still time, one could write their first novel. Competition, however, is as thick as packages of Bic pens. Last year 200,000 books were published; half were fiction; of that half there were 10,000 debut novels. Time is as scarce as typewriters and even in this era of political correctness, writers and readers must discriminate in their choice of book pursuits.
"Learn to write well, or not to write at all," said the Duke of Buckingham. Each year ForeWord prepares an article on debut novels from independent publishers and university presses. Nelly Heitman, who studied English Literature and History at the University of Michigan, in her ForeSight Fiction article, "From Darkness Into the Light: Running the Gamut in Debut Fiction," discriminates using her sensibility for literary truffles. She first, however, eliminates writers who have mastered everything except language. Rooting out the delicacies involves discernment of the subtleties of style, the felicitous perfection of phrase, dexterous selection of detail, and consciousness of content. Nelly indicates, "These narratives run the gamut of moods---from the grim and darkly tragic to lighthearted and triumphant. The...