Selections from recent email

A friend read Ed Park’s essay on Lee Tandy Schwartzman’s Crippled Detectives and then reminded me of another novel written by a child: Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters. Ashford wrote the novel in 1890, at the age of 9. When it was published, uncorrected, in 1919, the copies sold like hotcakes.

In response to the news that two of Peter De Vries’ books will soon return to print, Katharine Weber (Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear) writes:

DE VRIES! My god! My hero! I am so proud that [I share his agent]! (Not to overlook the Wharton estate, or for that matter the Dorothy L Sayers estate, but De Vries!) I have read everything of his twice, thrice, fice. Be aware that, though, Blood of the Lamb is the odd book out, as it is the sad, sad story of his daughter’s leukemia death. Better to start with Reuben, Rueben or Tunnel of Love or Into Your Tent I’ll Creep, or, perhaps, best thought, Comfort Me With Apples.

Richard Grayson (whose The Boy Who Fell to Brooklyn appears at U.M.’s Mangrove online) also puts in a good word for De Vries:

Back in the mid-70s, when I was a young MFA student at Brooklyn, we all adored Peter De Vries. I guess I’d put him on top of my writers who need to be back in print. It is so strange how many writers that were once so important to me, from Vance Bourjilay to even someone as famous as John Gardner, are out of print.

I was tremendously influenced by De Vries, as the bad puns show. And I admit in print, in the story that somehow got nominated for the Million Writers Award, that I stole a De Vries book from the Brooklyn public library.

Regarding the Random House Twentysomething Writers anthology, a regular reader writes:

the fine print points out that 28 (!) lucky winners will receive NO payment.

[“Twenty-eight Runners Up will win a contract as described without monetary compensation. By signing the contract, Grand Prize Winner and each Runner Up will convey to Random House all of the rights covered in the contract, which will include the right to publish, distribute, sublicense and sell the submission as part of the Work, in the English language, for all formats and editions of the Work, throughout the world, as well as the right to license first serial rights in the Work including the submission, all without monetary compensation other than the cash award to the Grand Prize Winner. All taxes (federal, state, local, and any other) are winners’ sole responsibility. Prizes are not transferable and cannot be assigned. No substitutions allowed.”]

This is a bit ridiculous…. Wouldn’t it make more sense to pay one person $15,000, and a few hundred each for the rest?

Another correspondent takes issue with Daniel Alarcón’s Salon piece about Latino writers and readers’ expectations, saying:

it really rubbed me the wrong way, especially after he was so polite to the woman at the event and so mean to her afterward. We all have ocassions where we wish we’d had the right comeback at the time, but the premise of the piece is ridiculous. What am I supposed to feel after reading this? Pity? Poor passive aggressive Alarcón.

The anonymous proprietor Reader of Depressing Books of directs me to a different perspective on the Alarcón piece.

The Grumpy Old Bookman is hardly the first to pity Mr. Maud, but he may be the first to give him a shout-out.


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