Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Trivia

It looks like Dr. Davin Malasarn is still away on business, so it falls to me to post some kind of placeholder filler material. I shake my fist at you, Dr. Davin Malasarn.

Anyway, I found out today that John Updike, best-selling author of a bazillion novels, never had a literary agent. He dealt directly with his publisher (Knopf) and let them negotiate paperback rights for him (he did pretty well with that). Updike also didn't take advances, and lived off his royalties (he did pretty well with that, too). Though I can't help but wonder if more of his books would've been made into films had Updike had an agent. You never know.

Also: Has anyone else read both Nabokov's Pale Fire and his translator's notes to Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time? I think the latter clearly informs the former, as Nabokov was as much editor/commentator as he was translator, and--in true Nabokovian fashion--little by little he takes over the narrative. You can't read Nabokov as translator and then see Kinbote's notes to "Pale Fire" the same way ever again. I am tempted to work with footnotes and the idea of countering the primary text in some future novel. Yes, I know: plenty of people have already jumped onto that bandwagon, but it looks like fun.


  1. Interesting...I'm a big fan of not accepting royalties (or accepting lower ones) in exchange for higher royalties.

  2. I just want the first novel to sell well enough that I get invited back to play again. My agent will want the biggest advance we can get, I'm sure.

  3. But if Updike would have waited for an agent, would he have been published at all? Agents being the gatekeepers to publishers and all that.

    Of Course, publishing may have been different when Updike started out. Something to think about, definitely.

  4. I'm sure that in 1960 or whenever Updike's first novel was published, you could still send a MS over the transom at a publisher and have it read. Lots of people "in the old days" didn't have agents, but lots of them did, too. Flannery O'Connor had an agent, and she was publishing before Updike was.


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