Shya Scanlon's work has appeared in Mississippi Review, Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Guernica Magazine, Opium Magazine, and others. His book of prose poetry, In This Alone Impulse, was published by Noemi Press in January, 2010. His novel Forecast will be launched by Flatmancrooked on November 15th, 2010. He received his MFA from Brown University, where he was awarded the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction.
This collection of novel excerpts and accompanying query letters -- a collective of pitches -- deserves five stars just for the genius of its idea. In a changing (and thinning) publishing market, where getting any agent's or publisher's attention is as easy as self-publishing on Kindle but, for daring writers not selling mainstream prose, has rarely been harder, editor Shya Scanlon's brainchild is brilliant. Dylan Thomas allegedly once opined, "I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear bad with conviction." What better way, then, to convince an agent or a publisher that a work deserves to be in print than to put it in print to begin with? And to include not stand-alone excerpts but to intentionally leave readers hanging, hopefully desperate for more, as should be the goal of every writer, is an editorial decision so bold yet so necessary we should all be kicking ourselves that we didn't come up with it first.
But Scanlon's mind is on more than just cool publishing ideas. Setting aside my own entry here (yes, I'm in this, but I'm speaking about the other writers here), in this collection, Scanlon has pulled together a fantastic array of voices and literary styles, from brooding historical novels to sharp modern fables to daring experimental storytelling, the pieces in this book offer a glimpse at a future of fiction. Not THE future, because the variety of styles and voices here defies any one direction and because there's no guarantee any of these books will find publication. But they definitely deserve an audience, and if anyone out there is bold enough to follow Scanlon's vision and pursue the fiction in this "pitch" issue of Sententia, I feel our literary future will be rich and fascinating indeed.
I, for one, can't wait to add all these books to my "to read" shelf here in Goodreads.
Well, I'm not exactly partial, as I have one of the novel excerpts included here...but this is an enjoyable, early peek, into some long fiction projects, some of which (read as: mine) are still int he works. The work runs the gamut...showing how versatile literary fiction can be. Great for anyone curious about what a "pitch" might look like. Of course, the work is solid throughout--so you need only be interested in a few good partial reads to get your money's worth out of this.