Nobody: An Autobiography (literary fiction)
Posted 29 November 2010 - 01:36 PM
by Carin Dupin
It had only been a moment, no more than a small space between two whiles, yet his birth would mark the rupture between two distinct and irreconcilable epochs within the emotional life of his family, an insurmountable meridian within the familial heart for which there would always be a before and an after, that barely discernible shift when love makes its first diminutive step toward hate. His umbilical cord was severed at precisely the same moment that his maternal grandfather was being lowered into the ground. Drenched in sweat, relieved that it was over, his mother’s heart pounded to the rhythm of the lumps of dirt and rock as they thumped against the lid of the coffin. His father was standing where she should have been––at the edge of a gaping hole staring with disbelief as the man upon whom so much in their lives had depended vanished forever. Squirming in the basin as the stains of his mother’s blood were washed away, there was no way he could have known how portentous this moment would be. When the nurse tried to hand him over to his mother she waved them both away then turned and faced the wall. Closing her eyes and clenching her fists she swore that she would never forgive him for choosing this moment of all moments to come into the world.
If we are able to choose the moment of our birth––as he would come to believe was the case––his timing had been impeccable. Before he’d even had a chance to take his first breath his soul’s trajectory had been defined by this embryonic moment, the first in a parabolic arc of pivotal moments that would form then launch his soul into the world. The inexorable leitmotif of his soul’s odyssey would be his need to understand why in the world he would have chosen such a moment to be born; for if he had, it meant that he had intentionally chosen to forfeit his mother’s love––which is to say, he had chosen to be nobody.
The unrelenting tension between the nobody he had chosen to be and the somebody he was supposed to be would form the crucible within which his soul would cook as he wafted from one pivotal moment to another. Transfixed by the sight of his blood and the blood of his boyhood friend joining and coagulating into a pact of brotherhood; his lips meeting the lips of a girl for the first time; having to choose between the friend to whom he had sworn an undying loyalty and a woman whose life he alone had the power to save––these would be some of the moments wherein his soul, this most abstruse dimension of being, would be made manifest. His work, that which he considered to be the true purpose and meaning of his existence, was the creation of this soul. It would be within this act of soul-crafting that he would discover that for which he was born, namely, that being nobody can be an exhilarating experience in a world where everybody is obsessed with being somebody.
Carin Dupin is unpublished, unknown, unaccoladed, a nobody within the milieu of literary somebody’s. Though she tried her best to escape the tyranny of the pen––and nearly succeeded––it pursued her doggedly across the landscape of many a divertissement and when at last it caught her up she knew that never again would she be able to break away. Nobody: An Autobiography is the first fruit of her capitulation.
Nobody: An Autobiography, literary fiction, 145,000 words.
Posted 29 November 2010 - 04:19 PM
Unfortunately, as a query, it doesn't come near the format expected by the industry. There's a few pinned articles at the front of this forum that will give you direction in that regard.
And when you come back, I very much look forward to seeing what you've done with it.
Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:12 PM
Looking forward to your next submission,
Posted 29 November 2010 - 05:54 PM
Posted 30 November 2010 - 12:09 PM
Don't mean to be harsh. You're obviously a talented writer. As another writer of the dreaded "literary fiction", I thought I'd offer my two cents. Write on!
Posted 30 November 2010 - 12:19 PM
Posted 30 November 2010 - 01:07 PM
Posted 30 November 2010 - 04:22 PM
Here are a few considerations that guided me while writing the query. You are not mistaken Pete in thinking the first paragraph is the opening pages only it is a condensation of the first 25 pages. True, it is dense which rather presumptuously assumes that an agent dealing with literary fiction is up to the task and while I appreciate your critique RB, every word was arduously chosen to affect a tone as much as a context. My intent was to accurately reflect the personality of this work. While similarly crafted Nobody is not nearly so dense. Managing to capture a 375 page manuscript on one page is a daunting feat for anyone of us right! However, and I sincerely hope this doesn't sound presumptuous, let me add that in writing the query what motivated me most was not so much a desire to appeal to the largest number of agents as my wanting to attract the right kind of agent, someone I would like to work with. We are the client right? Seemed to me that it was my responsibility to send out an honest snapshot of who I am as a writer. In a way it's not unlike one of those on-line dating sites (which I confess that I voyeuristically delight in reading how it is that people describe themselves;)if someone presents themselves in an altogether false light wouldn't the lie be betrayed in the first few seconds of an encounter? Isn't it less about finding any agent than it is about finding the right agent? While my argument certainly doesn't prove anyone of you wrong so much as prove me foolhardy, I confess to being an unrepentant idealist and an idealist can do no less than seek the ideal.
Here is the other thing. I live in Canada and have already sent this query to all the Canadian agents I could find which are not many. Out of those one requested a 30 day exclusive and all the others responded, some with an outright rejection but most with a kind letter encouraging me to keep looking for an agent that was better positioned to take on such a work. And there is the a British agent who upon reading the query requested the manuscript (I have yet to hear back from her.) Hence your comments are the first that I have heard that the format of the query is off. My decision to post it here was that I have been considering pursuing American agents and was wondering how my query would be greeted across the border. If your comments are any indication, it sounds iffy!
Forgive me for being so wordy (feel free to reprimand me once again if you wish) but I felt your comments merited a thoughtful response. Meanwhile I will ponder what has been said and decide if I am to generate a new draft or go ahead and risk comprehensive bewilderment. I have also wondered if perhaps I am not motivated by a subconscious death wish, terrified at the idea that an agent may be crazy enough to want to take this book to town, but that is another matter for another forum.
thank you all so much. I'm awed and grateful. --carin
Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:23 PM
I think you write well though it is a bit slow-moving for my taste. Your query is very focused on showing off your particular style. There's nothing wrong with that especially when you're talking about literary work. But I think the query is too long and doesn't treat itself as a marketing tool, one that considers how little time it has to grab its reader. A lot of the time you will be able to paste a few pages below the query letter, right? Better to use the query to sell the story than the style. I hope this helps.
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