I'm reading a manuscript whose author I've liked since the very first line of her query. It could have been disastrous: she made the choice of giving one impression (an unflattering one--or at least one that would fit into a query cliché that most often leads to rejection) but turned it around in the second paragraph. Sort of like giving one an extreme close-up, then backing up so that we can see the context is far from what we expected. It's a big risk; I imagine at least one agent read the first paragraph and tossed it. It came with formatting (which I'll forgive, of course--a pretty peach background on the email, once I clicked the "Display Images Below" link) and a picture (often not advised). She's remarkably young and, through the correspondence of technical difficulties (several attachments later, I couldn't open the file--I was about to get out a Microsoft Word manual but she figured it out), I've learned that she's a rather pleasant human being.
The work is somewhere between Women's and Literary fiction; more the former than the latter, though the sentences are quite beautiful--and witty, and funny. Oh my. Is that a faint blush, or is the hot cocoa (a gift from an author) steam warming my cheeks?
In other words, I want to love this. I really, really, really want to love this. I want to email my boss (who's out and about, but is, as ever, Blackberry-connected) and tell her I love this book I want it right now. Or something like that. Something a bit less grabby.
But, out of superstition, I've avoided the following:
- Emailing the author to tell her I like what I've read so far before I read the whole thing. I did this before and it usually ends badly--and awkwardly, as you can imagine.
- Munching while reading. I have a big habit of doing so--I especially like organic ("push tail to open!") Annie's Mac-n-Cheese with Women's Fiction over lunch--and the keyboard has survived so far. But this is for works where the sentences are light and flow into each other to make sense, rather than works like this one, where each sentence is a little meaning-gem. Noticing I was only giving 80 percent of my attention to the words, I was munching anyway (today, a salad with everything, including chopped apples and sharp cheese) and the manuscript offered up a rather visceral and unappetizing image. The sort that stays with you for a few hours a day. Salad = repackaged. Cocoa is fine, as one can sip unconsciously and quietly. No crunching involved.
- Posting this until after I've read the whole thing. If nothing else, it'll make me finish the work by the end of the day. It's 2:15 now; I'm 32 pages in. We'll see what I can do. (And yes. We really do, often, know these thing so soon.)