I’ve had trouble knowing how to talk about my novel, especially outside of my immediate literary community. The thing is that it’s a story that readers from many realms could enjoy (which is what I tell myself while quietly weeping at night thinking about that reviewer who hated my book). But there are caveats. Caveats that I honestly had no great way to talk through. Until Kristen Forbes did it for me. In this post on her blog, she shares how she talks to her mother about my book:
“Let me just warn you,” I said to my mom after she professed a desire to not only read Yuvi Zalkow’s book A BRILLIANT NOVEL IN THE WORKS, but also to attend his reading at Powell’s… And then I brushed on some of the more risque elements of the book, things like ass cutting and spanking.
“Okay,” my mom said, undeterred. I felt satisfied with this, because I’d given her a proper warning but I didn’t sway her against reading it. That’s what I’d like to do for you, too: give you a proper warning about the adult content but not to hit it so heavily that you no longer feel like giving the book a try.
It’s tricky to say, “Yes, my main character stands on the bathroom countertop and cuts his ass with a razor blade — but that’s not what the book is about…” I’m not trying to shock people. I just needed this character to work through what he was working through.
There are scenes involving razor blades, restraints and harnesses. These scenes serve a purpose and are not included for gratuitous entertainment. This is a character-driven novel and his predilections tell us a lot about our main character and his desires, as well as his shame.
So that’s that. I’ve got nothing to add. Just gratuitous Kristen quoting. And while I’m stealing. Here is how she lands:
This isn’t your mother’s neurotic Jew novel, but if your mother can get past the cutting and spanking, she’ll still fall in love. This is a terrifically tender and colossally clever and fully funny book.
Now if only I can bring Kristen along with me when I’m on the plane with that sweet seventy-six-year-old lady who says, “So what’s that cute book of yours about anyway?” (As it turns out, after I awkwardly described my book to the lady, she smiled and then pulled out her copy of 50 Shades of Grey. Shows what I know…
New video on September 15.