A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Walk Tall and Carry a Big Poster

This post was left by Anonymous:

What I understand is that you don't really understand--you are buried smugly in your own philosophical environment. Yes, the Islamists are going over the top on this Danish cartoon thing (for other reasons than the cartoons themselves, by the way), but the cartoonists and newspapers were dumb as rocks to create and publish them. Anyone who bothered to check (which, apparently, isn't the smug you) would know that use of human images--especially the image of Mohammad--scoots off in a whole new dimension with the Islamists. Carry a poster of Jesus sticking it to John into Jerry Falwell's church and see what the reaction is.

And here is my response…

Maybe YOU don’t really understand, so let me explain. According to Islam, Mohammed is not supposed to be depicted in images—everyone now knows it because of the brouhaha over the cartoons. But that doesn’t mean the subject is off limits to those who don’t believe. A political cartoon expresses an opinion, by the way, and when an opinion is expressed, some people disagree and some don’t. That is freedom of speech and something writers should understand.

Maybe the cartoonist is like the bozo-head writers that I try to discourage and just slapped something on the paper to submit without doing any research, thinking a timely cartoon about the Middle East would really sell (need that publishing credit!), and it did. Great strategy, and a great way to get published. But—surprise!—this artist discovered the major problem of getting his work out there (newbies, take note): When people see your work, they will respond to it—some by sending nice notes, others with death threats. It’s a fifty/fifty risk.

If you did march someone into Jerry F.’s church sporting a poster of Jesus ass-fucking anyone, do you know what is supposed to happen? According to Jesus, and I am paraphrasing here, followers of Christ would turn the other cheek (no pun intended). True Christians are supposed to offer love and support in the face of such offending behavior. Do you know what will happen if you send someone into a church with a poster like that? Screams, shouts, and evangelists buying air time to pray and ask for donations to start a lawsuit, if the perpetrator hasn’t already been caught and summarily executed…things like that. Absolutely no one will miss the opportunity to point out how their religion has been offended and demand that everyone start believing so they can be appeased. Sounds just like publishing. If you don’t tow the party line, you don’t get an invitation to the next shindig. Personally, I like private parties much better anyway.

You know, I put up with Oprah and her dabbles in literature, even though I have done nothing but answer stupid fucking questions since her book club started. I have seen nothing but an increase in inane and worthless books since talk shows became a PR venue. But I don’t riot in front of her offices or send threatening letters.

She’ll probably end up doing a show on how to get published next, and, of course, gather all the usual suspects in the quasi-low levels of writerdom (shhh, don’t tell them, they think they are the gurus…shhhhhh). You know, the lead watch groups and their groupies, the “top” agents (ha ha ha) who spend more time soliciting throught their blogs than working, famous editors (of crappy chick-lit books, cookbooks, memoirs meant to emotionally pander, and the newest teen novel by Mary-Kate and Ashley), not too mention writers who have been on the NYC b-list for the last thousand years for books like The Da Vinci Code, The Purpose-Driven Life, Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries, The South Beach Diet, Confessions of a Video Vixen, the alphabet mysteries with Kinsey Millhone, or any book by Danielle Steele or Nicholas Sparks. And let’s invite James Frey, too, just to make it look like we are forgiving creatures. That’s right, what a show that will be! Oprah perpetuating publishing myths—the blind leading the blind. A true metaphor for the industry today. Yep, get all those fascinating folks in one room and start filming the bullshit.

Then call some Muslims and tell them they’re the ones who drew the cartoons.


  • At 4:35 AM, Blogger Gabrielle said…

    Oh my Lordy! I love Oprah and I love chick-lit, but you've just given me the biggest laugh of the week. Thanks.


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