Did you read the piece on Baxter in Ploughshares that I posted yesterday? Oh, read it! This is from the piece. So outrageous.
Don Lee writes:
He [Charles] turned to fiction and churned out three novels, but they were disasters. “They were very abstract, these novels, very schematic, in some sense like bad postmodernism,” he says. “Nothing in them felt particularly real, although I didn’t realize that at the time. You rarely do when you’re working. I thought they were great. I was utterly baffled by the indifference or loathing with which people read them.”
One agent was particularly cruel. “I called her and said, ‘Julie, what do you think of my novel?’ And she said, ‘I hate it.’ And then she said, ‘Tell me why I hate it.’ And I said, ‘Julie, I don’t know why you hate my novel.’ She said, ‘Oh, you must, you wrote it. Tell me why I hate it. Is it the characters? Is it the setting? I just don’t understand any of it. Help me out here. Why do I hate your novel?’ It was an amazing phone call. And I kept having experiences like that. This person I knew on the West Coast read one of my novels and said, ‘Well, maybe your imagination’s poisoned right at the source.’ ”