A Diamond in the Slush
Because our company’s namesake is derived from the mythical “slush” pile, I figured I owed it to myself to learn what I could about this wasteland of unpublished manuscripts. The term has always conjured images of hapless editorial assistants sifting through unmanageable stacks of unbound paper with cartoon-y thought bubbly to express their dismay. When I began interning at a literary agency I came to find the scenario I had envisioned was more or less accurate, although many submissions came in the form of self-published books. Regardless of the format, much of it was unremarkable, some of it incoherent and most of it unfit to be published.
Even with my own firsthand experience, I still felt a system that has allowed commercial sensations like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Twilight—the Harry Potter series for starry-eyed teenage girls (in SOME people’s estimation) to be routinely rejected–must have a gaping flaw. The short answer is that there is. In an old essay from Salon, a freelance writer shares her experience manning the slush pile at a major legacy publisher. The piece is worth reading in full, but the major thing to take away from it is the simple fact that there are too many manuscripts and too few pairs of fresh eyes— a problem compounded by the fact that the traditional publishing industry is hurting and it is now too expensive to pay employees to read slush that rarely is worthy of publication. Now editors will not even look at a manuscript unless an agent is attached to the project, and the burden of unsolicited manuscripts has fallen upon literary agencies who lack the staffing to handle the onslaught of material as well.
With all this in mind, I cannot help but feel that PUBSLUSH has a serious void to fill. The goal of PUBSLUSH is to establish an audience of willing readers who can account for their own reading appetites in a way that swamped literary agents cannot. In our hands the slush pile will be rebranded into a potential goldmine where readers can excavate and evaluate the worth of each manuscript.
As an example of how many worthy and acclaimed books have seen the slush pile, I present to you…Treasures Excavated From the Rejection Pile:
Gone with the Wind: Margaret Mitchell
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: J.K. Rowling
Goodbye Columbus: Philip Roth
Dubliners: James Joyce
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Robert M. Pirsig
A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole
The Tales of Peter Rabbit: Beatrix Potter
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Jack Canfield
Diary of Anne Frank: Anne Frank
Books to Big Screen
There’s an epidemic going on, people, and I call it…literary cinema. As of late, The Hunger Games is the latest YA series to make the transformation from novel to movie, following in the footsteps ofTwilight and Harry Potter. Numerous Nicholas Sparks novels have been adapted into movie versions, the latest forthcoming movie adaptation of one of his novels being The Lucky One. Many classic novels have been reworked into film versions, multiple Dr. Suess books have hit the big screen, and even the critically acclaimed TV show The Walking Dead was based on a comic book series.
So what’s the basis of Hollywood’s obsession with turning literature into film? Hollywood has created a market in which authors now not only strive to publish and sell their novels, but it’s as though the ultimate goal is to have your novel turned into something bigger…a movie. There’s two sides to every story though. (Ahem, pun intended, thank you.) On one hand, movie adaptations have helped to further popularize mainstream literature. For example, people who might not regularly read may be more inclined to pick up The Hunger Games and give it a go if they hear all the buzz surrounding the movie premiere. Great, score one for literature. However, here’s my question…doesn’t the visualization of the movie in some way deter and damage the magical imaginative aspects of reading?
Reading is supposed to incite and inspire each and every person in a slightly different way. Half the fun of reading is developing the world of the story in your head–a special world that is shared with other readers, but at the same time is solely yours as part of your imagination. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? But with all these movies depicting the world of the novel that once resided primarily in our imagination, that magic is diminished.
It’s without a doubt that literary cinema is here to stay, as every great story must now be told in multiple mediums, but food for thought for authors and readers alike: Write and read for the love of literature and the creative world it fosters. It’s with this mindset that great stories are developed.
Your Favorite Literary Characters Celebrate the Fourth
Ever wondered what would happen if you invited famous and popular fictional characters to a 4th of July barbecue? As you plan your own barbecue and guest list (or maybe you’re just planning on what to bring to someone else’s barbecue, or planning how your going to crash your neighbor’s rooftop celebration), take a moment to decide whether or not you’d want these well-known men and women to wish America a happy Independence Day with you.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy) is the one sitting in a corner, shoveling barbecued goods down her throat while simultaneously keeping an eye on everyone at the party. Though you’ve reassured her multiple times that this is a really safe rooftop party, you know what they say – you can take the girl out of The Hunger Games, but you can’t take the Hunger Games out of the girl.
Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye) is in the opposite corner, longing to be in the crowd but also annoyed because he thinks everyone is trying too hard. He has his iPod headphones in his ears and is listening to his playlist of every anti-American song that he could find, just to make it clear to everyone around him that he thinks national holidays are pointless.
Romeo Montague & Juliet Capulet (Romeo & Juliet) You invited Romeo thinking he might hit it off with Juliet, but you had no idea just how well they’d get along. They lock eyes over the watermelon and are inseparable for the rest of the night, culminating in a Facebook-official relationship by the time the fireworks end.
Edward Cullen (Twilight) doesn’t even eat cooked food but shows up to the barbecue because he saw that Bella Swan was listed under “Attending” on the Facebook event. He’ll be sulking in the shade until she arrives, because he doesn’t want to upstage the fireworks by glittering in the sunlight.
Odysseus (The Odyssey) got lost on the way. According to Google Maps, he won’t make it to your barbecue for at least another ten years.
Though your cookout may not actually have Romeo & Juliet or Holden Caulfield attending, you know all literary characters have real life counterparts, so be on the lookout. Happy 4th of July!!