Monday, January 25, 2010

Blind Submission

Angel Montgomery, an insatiable reader, has landed a job in what is arguably the most successful literary agency on the West Coast. She can hardly believe that she is working for the famous Lucy Fiamma Literary Agency or that she answers the phone almost every day with the chance of finding one of her favorite authors on the other end of the line. But, while she is thrilled to discover her natural ability to transform promising manuscripts into potential best sellers, she is shocked that Lucy Fiamma expects her to work around the clock to earn her pitiful salary. Her dream job has quickly become the job from hell. What does she do now?

She sticks it out - because reading has been the only constant in her life for as long as she can remember. She explains: “…reading was only part of the thrill that a book represented. I got a dizzy pleasure from the weight and feel of a new book in my hand, a sensual delight from the smell and crispness of the pages. I loved the smoothness and bright colors of their jackets. For me, a stacked, unread pyramid of books was one of the sexiest architectural designs there was. Because what I loved most about books was their promise, the anticipation of what lay between the covers, waiting to be found.” How could anyone who feels that way quit this particular job?

Despite a failing romantic relationship, deteriorating health and lack of anything resembling a personal life, Angel continues to work the agency’s blind submission stack in search of the agency’s next big thing. She learns how to survive the bizarre list of demands Lucy drops on her the first thing every morning and to tolerate the rest of the office staff. And, in the process, she is turning into a very fine literary assistant.

Crazy as the job already is, everything is kicked up a notch when Angel begins working on an anonymously written manuscript about a West Coast literary agency and the people who work there. Despite the mystery of the blind submission’s origin, Angel is impressed enough with it to bring it to Lucy’s attention and is soon working with the mysterious writer, via email, to turn the pages into a novel the agency can sell. She recognizes from the start that the manuscript describes an agency eerily similar to hers, but Angel begins to panic when later chapters begin to reveal intimate secrets about her own work life and personal relationships. The details are so personal, she realizes, that the anonymous author has to be someone close to her. But why would someone so close want to disgrace and discredit her?

Blind Submission is a satirical look at the “sausage making” part of the publishing world book lovers find fascinating but seldom see for themselves. This 2006 novel's setting is what initially appealed to me but I also found it to be a satisfying mystery that kept me guessing until near the end of Ginsberg’s story. Blind Submission successfully crosses several genre lines, in fact, and other readers will undoubtedly enjoy its romance/chick lit aspects most. There seems to be something here for just about every kind of reader.

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