Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If at first....

One of these days, I'll be able to look back on the struggle, and I mean struggle, to persuade readers, reviewers and booksellers that Feather Man is exceptional.

But today, a glimmer of light appeared from a bookseller in Massachusetts, who is recommending Feather Man for the Book Sense pick in September.

'This beautifully written and disturbing Australian coming of age novel grabbed me from the first page. Sooky struggles to overcome her difficult childhood, with a father who abandoned the family, an emotionally distant mother and abuse by the one person to whom she felt close. The effects of this childhood are powerfully portrayed as Sooky moves from relationship to relationship and from Brisbane to London. It is her growing sense of herself as an artist which balances the pain.' Nancy Felton, Broadside Books, MA

It made me return to the first page of a novel which is the most successful Marion Boyars Publishers have ever published - and I expect you would not guess unless I gave it away:

'They're out there.
Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.
They're mopping when I come out the dorm, all three of them, sulky and hating everything, the time of day, the place they're at here, the people they got to work around. When they hate like this, better if they don't see me. '

This is the Chief on page one of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. Eat your heart out - booksellers who do not want to read past the first chapter of Feather Man because it is strong. See what the world would have missed if this ethic governed all reading.

To make Feather Man a success right now is similar to a mental image I kept in my head for over five years when I took on this down at heart (then - not now!) company. The mental image was of three figures - 0.00 - and in my mind our front window was decorated with them, triumphantly, with no other message. This was supposed to represent our financial situation - ie no debt! And when it happened (which it did), I felt triumphant in the extreme. So battles are what life is - and they are sometimes what makes it worthwhile.


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