Not Just A Southern Thing

January 10th, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

New York Publisher. Sounds so big, doesn’t. All those bright lights and tall buildings. Lunches at Michael’s with your incredibly hip (and incredibly young) editor. Both of you are wearing black. It’s slimming and repels city grime.

But is a New York publisher right for you? Maybe you’d like someone willing to take a risk. Maybe you’re looking for a personal touch. Maybe you’re looking for someone like Kathy Pories of Algonquin Books. She’s looking for you, especially if you have passion for your work.

I think we have such a proliferation of well-trained and well-schooled writers these days who write beautiful sentences and scenes and create believable characters, but don’t write with urgency or a sense of tension and movement. Though I favor literary fiction, I’m put off by manuscripts that seem to be all about being literary with little sense of plot, with little feeling that this is something I must keep reading. I don’t want to be reading something that is making me conscious of the literary skill of the writer; I want to be in that story, and have their literary skill be what’s making it work.

Though known primarily as a Southern publisher, Algonquin doesn’t discriminate when it comes to other regions — rumor has it they might even accept work from California authors (we have no hard evidence of this, of course). Southern roots run deep, and Pories has an interesting take on writers from her region:

I think because we have a persistent Southern identity—even though we’re not an exclusively Southern house—we are sent more books from Southern writers. But because I see so much Southern writing and because I’m in the South, I’m probably tougher on Southern novels than editors at other houses. Which is to bring us back to that issue of authenticity: I see so much Southern writing that feels like it’s trying too hard to prove its Southernness—through an excess of idiomatic expressions, cute characters, outspoken tough women, etc.—things that feel like clichés of the South—that I’m harder on what I read from Southern writers.

File Under: Publishers and Editors