Saturday, December 13, 2008

Keeping Up with Sales

I get Publishers Weekly. I read the once-week Lunch Weekly. I see deals that are sometimes interesting and oft times mind-boggling. Some don’t tell how much they sold for. Some give amounts, like “six figures.”

But one came out on December 2nd that caught my eye. Totally flummoxed me. I’m going to quote it here, but before I do, I want you to read the description then answer two questions in the Comments section:
Would you buy this? Would you read this?
Here is the deal:
Mathias Enard's ZONE, A 500-page, single-sentence French novel, with Charlotte Mandell translating, to Open Letter, for publication in summer 2010, by Actes Sud.


  1. We are of like minds, Lillie.

  2. Uhm! Why? I'd never read this. This one British blogger talked about an 11 page sentence. I thought that was ridiculous! This is absurd.

  3. I don't understand why anyone would want to try to make sense of a 500 page sentence. And why would someone waste time trying to write one? I can see writing a looong sentence as a novelty, but who would keep the sentence going for 500 pages?

  4. Are you kidding? A marathon sentence made into a book? The blurb didn't grab me at all. I'm like, whatever.

  5. I might buy it to send to someone as a gag, but other than that I'm with Lillie Ammann--no and no.

    It's interesting that it's a long sentence but the most urgent question is: Is it a GOOD sentence?

  6. I wouldn't buy it but it will probably be a bestseller. :)

    My alcoholic, womanizing, possible serial killer, Pat Wilson, and I are currently visiting Holly Jahangiri's blog site at:
    Come on over for tea, zacchini bread and Holly's interview with Pat.

  7. If this were 1923, say, in the era of modernism, when Joyce, Woolf, Proust, Faulkner, et al were publishing I could see an experiment like this as valid: modernism breaking with tradition. So, if it were the 1920s, maybe I'd read it. But now, I'm not sure such a novel is necessary. And it's a shame that it's getting six figures. Again, the publishing industry shows its flaws. Such a figure is only fair if every writer were to get such a sum for a book.

    Joyce basically had to self publish; I think Woolf had to establish her own publishing house. And Faulkner might have gotten paid large sums writing for the movies, but not for any novel he ever published.

    Then, again, what do I know? Maybe this novel is ahead of its time, like the midden Moby-Dick, as a reviewer in Melville's time called an experimental novel of its day, now a classic.

  8. No and No. Not only did the description not create interest - it gave me a headache! So a sale was made, but for aspirin, not books.

  9. Ridiculous that something silly like that can get published and not so many worthwhile books.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. I read an excerpt from it. It's a long stream of consciousness about a traveler on a night train from Milan to Rome who thinks about his life and the Iliad. The blurb for the book says there is one page for every mile of track between Milan and Rome.

    I find stream of consciousness hard reading in the best of cases, but this is stream of consciousness without the punctuation. It's not that it seems like one long thought, but many thoughts delivered without breath or even pause for reflection.

    And where the hell is the white space?

  11. Good lord, Mark. It sounds like a mess. And I agree about the white space.

    I think I will pass on this book.


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