Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sale Conference, More Awkwardness from the Land of the Socially Inept

Liz again here.  I returned from Florida and the Random House sales conference late on Sunday, and then have tried to recover and soothe the raving, blood-thirty beast (the cat).  Gianna says that I should post some more thoughts about sales conference.  I'm too scared of her not to follow her directions.

What's sales conference like?

Dr. Seuss hats for all!
Dignity for none!
  • There's a lot of sitting in uncomfortable chairs, and for a conference at which books are discussed round the clock, there's never any time to actually read.  
  • The bar in the hotel is designated as a hospitality suite, and if you wear your name tag you can drink as much as you want.  There are always a few people who think that gettin' sloppy with the colleagues is a great finish to a day...and there are always a few people who think that spending time in the hospitality suite is its own ring of hell.  
  • Every company has its inside jokes and jokesters.  Some are actually funny.  More are not.  
  • I always feel sorry for the tourists who are staying at the resort and are surrounded by hundreds of Random House employees.  That said, these people have the pool all to themselves all day.  I did have a view of the pool from my hotel room...so of course I took a bunch of pictures of the people with the man boobs testing the theory of water displacement eight floors below me.  
  • Sonny Mehta is there.  Sonny is the Editor in Chief of Knopf.  We follow him into the bookish abyss with reckless abandon.
  • Oh yeah, and we talk about a bunch of books, some of which are truly exciting.  
Here's an early tease for a book coming out this fall:

Andrew Porter teaches at Trinity University in San Antonio, and though Trinity is the hated rival of my alma mater, Southwestern University, I set aside petty rivalries of liberal arts institutions with Division III NCAA status (no scholarship athletes) for local authors.  Andrew wrote a brilliant short story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter, a couple of years ago, which ended up winning the Flannery O'Connor Award.  Now he's delivered his first novel, In Between Days.

Andrew Porter
In Between Days echoes John Cheever or Richard Yates, and I mean that as the highest compliment.  Much fiction these days either is post-apocalyptic or else off-putting-ly clever (clever for the sake of cleverness), and while I admire some narrative manipulation, it can also become tiresome.  Andrew Porter simply writes beautiful sentences about normal people in normal times...if one can claim that these are normal times.  His novel is set in Houston and is centered on a family coming apart.  The father, Elson Harding, an architect, has divorced his wife of 30 years, Cadence.  Their son Richard is adrift, still living at home after graduating from college and dabbling at writing poetry.  He's full of angst, naturally.  Their daughter Chloe suddenly has to come home from her East Coast college, though, and the circumstances around her arrival pitch the family into turmoil.  There's a tension here, as well as an attention to detail without getting lost in the details, that makes In Between Days one of my favorite upcoming novels.  I know it's very early, but jot down this title for the fall.  You'll thank me.

That's it from Florida, but here's one last picture for you:

1 comment:

  1. hi! new follower here. ann, your new england counterpart sent me a link to your blog. i came for the book review and stayed for the sales conference fun!