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Blind Submission: A Novelby Debra Ginsberg
Synopses & Reviews
Books can be a dangerous business...
Angel Robinson loves books, loves reading, loves anything to do with the written word. But when Blue Moon Books, the Bay Area bookstore where she has worked since college, is squeezed out of business, Angel is forced to find a new job. She lucks into a position as the assistant to the world-renowned literary agent Lucy Fiamma.
Angel soon learns that working for Lucy is no picnic. The agent has a blockbuster ego to match her blockbuster success and Angel must juggle both her boss's prima donna demands and the strange quirks of her authors. But Angel soon becomes indispensible to the agency and develops a keen understanding of big projects and the writers who create them.
What she doesn't realize is just how far one of them will go to get published.
One day, a chapter from a mysterious manuscript by an anonymous author arrives at the office. Set in a New York literary agency, the novel, titled Blind Submission, centers on the ambitious assistant to a successful literary agent. Angel is pulled in by the plot—but her initial curiosity soon turns to panic. As the story unfolds—with chapters e-mailed in one by one — it becomes clear that the mystery author is writing the story of Angel's own life, including secrets she thought were deeply hidden. Someone is watching her, even plotting against her. Could it be her backstabbing coworker, her jealous boyfriend, or her seductive new client?
When the novel's plot turns to murder, Angel knows that if she doesn't discover the author's identity before the final chapter is written, more than just her career will be cut short.
"Memoirist Ginsberg (Waiting; Raising Blaze) gracefully transitions into fiction with a fresh twist on the aggrieved publishing assistant. Angel Robinson is a voracious reader excited to land a job at the prestigious Lucy Fiamma Literary Agency in San Francisco, but she quickly finds herself overwhelmed in the maelstrom of an office. Angel, forever lugging manuscripts home, discovers she has a knack for turning mediocre manuscripts into moneymakers, a talent Lucy handsomely capitalizes on. When an anonymous submission set in a Bay Area literary agency is e-mailed in, Angel begins hammering it into salable shape. At first, the parallels between the manuscript and her life are innocuous enough, but as subsequent chapters appear in her inbox and she corresponds via e-mail with the author (coyly called 'G. A. Novelist'), the story begins to reveal intimate details about Angel's life and to contain thinly veiled threats. Could her foundering writer boyfriend be the culprit? A jealous co-worker? Another of Lucy's clients? A game of e-mail cat and mouse unfolds as Angel continues working on the manuscript and her dragon-lady boss angles to sell it. Though not nail-bitingly suspenseful, the plot is twisty enough to keep readers guessing to the end." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Angel Robinson, an intelligent, beautiful Northern California woman in her 20s, suddenly finds herself out of a job when the independent bookstore where she works goes belly-up. Malcolm, her hunky-enough boyfriend, who works as a waiter while writing his novel, serendipitously finds her what he says must be the perfect job: assistant to the most famous literary agent on the West Coast — Lucy... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) Fiamma. The fun begins. I can't accurately assess what the non-writing public may think of this wickedly goofy satire (and, I think, roman a clef), but the closer you are to the world of books, the more you'll laugh. Lucy Fiamma is not exactly the retiring type. She's a wild-eyed loony with a very serious case of borderline personality disorder. She specializes in first-time writers from whom she extracts blockbuster books that she sells to East Coast editors for enormous amounts of money. (Oddly, most of her writers don't hang around for the second-book experience.) Her most important writer so far is an ethnic one, an Inuit named only Karanuk, whose first novel, 'Cold!,' has been an enormous best-seller. Lucy takes credit for the fame — she's the one who thought of the exclamation point — and has fashioned her flamboyant office in the shape of an igloo. She has a shock of startling white-blond hair, a wardrobe that evolves more and more outrageously as the narration continues, and moves in double-quick-time from seductive to sadistic to seductive again: 'Natalie, my dear,' Lucy may say in one breath, 'are we in business on this delicious book?' and then spend her next 10,000 breaths haranguing her desperate, underpaid, put-upon staff. This is the outfit that Angel signs on with. To paraphrase Milton, Angel has the strength of 10 because her heart is pure. For one thing, she's the only one in this closed world without a hidden agenda. (The reader sees right away that her weaselly boyfriend found her the job only because he yearns for Lucy as an agent.) Angel's got good manners and civility on her side — qualities in very short supply in the hell-office Lucy Fiamma calls home. Editors can hardly bear to speak to Lucy — perhaps because of all the money they've coughed up to her. Her successful writers avoid her as much as they can, preferring to deal with the ever-amiable Angel. And Lucy is sheltered by her staff from the hordes of awful writers, unpublished writers and almost certifiably insane writers who telephone every couple of seconds, intent on getting somebody to read their terrible 800-page manuscripts. One of these 'blind submissions' is from Damiano Vero, an 'Italian pastry chef living in San Francisco,' who has written about his days as a heroin addict back home in Milano. The writing is unexpectedly good. Angel discovers it and takes it to Lucy, who in between setting her employees against each other and driving everybody nuts is a terrific agent. She sells the book at auction and makes them all a lot of money. Damiano prefers, of course, to work with Angel. Then Angel gets another, much more ominous blind submission. It's something like 'The Devil Wears Prada,' except that this is set in a literary agency. The Lucy Fiamma character is portrayed as warm and motherly, while Angel is cast as a bitter, scheming witch. The author prefers to remain anonymous. Whoever can it be? The pleasure comes in waves; not just in Lucy's tirades or Malcolm's treachery, but in the many luckless, pathetic, exasperating submissions, and the equally luckless, pathetic, exasperating efforts of clueless book people attempting to do business. Anyone who longs to become a professional writer would do well to read this novel because even as it stretches the boundaries of disbelief, you remember that — on the contrary — 'Blind Submission' is right on the money. This is also a book about mothers and daughters, competition, generosity and success. Angel's own birth mother is a bit of a flake, always out in some sweat lodge or other, learning the ways of sorcerers and witches. Angel tends to feel a fair amount of scorn for her, and to feel neglected as well. But when Angel becomes Lucy's protege, she encounters a real devil-mother who teaches her, smothers her, sabotages her, envies her, probably even loves her — even as she elicits the same scary emotions in Angel. Her own mom begins to look pretty good. (As does the darling Damiano, who does her the favor of loving her for herself.) If the agent being satirized here is who I think she is, I need to state for the record that she's intelligent and large-hearted enough to get a kick out of this. (It's not her fault that she hypnotizes editors like chickens and then takes all their money!) But the real story here is the American book business today — a world so skewed, tweaked and warped that it's almost impossible to satirize. If you're a book person (and why else would you be reading a book review?) give yourself a treat and take a look at 'Blind Submission.'" Reviewed by Carolyn See, who can be reached at carolynsee.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[A] cleverly told, genre-bending tale that combines intrigue, romance, a touch of mystery and strong female characters....Book lovers will enjoy Ginsberg's dead-on look at the publishing industry." USA Today
"The book-within-a-book hook adds a clever twist to this tale of entry-level angst." Library Journal
"Ginsberg's blithe blend of mystery, romance, and satire is smart, classy, and fun." Booklist
"Juicy, if superficial and guilty of many of the very tricks it skewers." Kirkus Reviews
"With savvy plotting and writing that hits its stride after the first dozen or so pages, Blind Submission delivers on its promise of a smart, fun ride through the publishing world." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Ginsberg may occasionally resort to cliches or echo her mystery novelist's overwrought language, but the industry send-ups are chucklers...Ginsberg makes a lively jump from memoir to fiction with this witty, rollicking ride." San Francisco Chronicle
"The prose is cliché-ridden and on the level of a drugstore romance novel; the characters one-dimensional; the sex scenes execrable; and many of the plot twists convenient or unbelievable....A trashy read for those interested in the world of book publishing." Rocky Mountain News
"Wicked fun and suspense from a talented new writer with an original, clever voice." Lisa Scottoline
"If you've ever considered a career in publishing, read Blind Submission, a 'boss from hell' story that's as funny as it is frightening. It will make you love your job." Harley Jane Kozak, author of Dating Dead Men and Dating Is Murder
"A wonderful read from start to finish. Ginsberg's writing is clever and seductive as she spins this tale of psychological peril and illumination." T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Fallen
Angel Robinson lands a job as the assistant to literary agent Lucy Fiamma, and soon discovers that working for Lucy is no picnic, particularly when she's ordered to whip a mysterious manuscript into shape. But when the chapters take a disturbing turn, Angel finds her sanity in danger.
About the Author
Debra Ginsberg is the author of the memoirs Waiting, Raising Blaze, and About My Sisters. This is her first novel. She lives in southern California.
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