slush pile gem

We’ve heard this complaint before: Readers in charge of the slush pile bitch and whine about the manuscripts they are forced to “read.” Grant Stewart was one of them:

Just to be clear, there’s never anything publishable in a slush pile. My job was just to make absolutely sure, then send the lousy stuff back whence it came. My only regret was I wasn’t allowed to enclose my own advice with the standard polite rejection. My ‘compliments’ slip would have read something like this: Dear Wannabe Novelist. Tips for your next submission (God help us). First, look at the covering letter you will send out with your opus. If it contains the sentence ‘This is my life’s work, it took me eight weeks!’, get out of my sight.

Except he came across DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little (the Booker winner.) He writes about what it’s like for a struggling author to discover someone else’s gem of a book in the slush pile:

My second novel, The Octopus Hunter, was published, and sold as badly as my first. Then, to cap it all, even the slush betrayed me. They called him Pierre. I thrust the 30 sample pages in Clare’s face. “Read this now! It’s a masterpiece!! From the SLUSH PILE!!!” Clare loved it. Faber & Faber loved it and paid a small fortune to publish it.

Link via Moby.

Share

One Response to “slush pile gem”

  1. Miel Says:

    That was a wonderful and an awful story. It’s interesting that this is the second post (that I recall) about writerly envy. (The other was Jonathan Franzen’s girlfriend.) One wonders if that is a natural side effect of being a writer. Before reading this, I’d say that it’s caused by the massive number of celebrated but crummy books. But then I realized it’s even worse to think someone is not unjustly celebrated but perhaps even more brilliant than you.

  • Twitter

  • Category Archives

  • Monthly Archives