Kith and kin, let me tell you a tale from the life of Corey Mesler, Writer.
I wrote a novel called Memphis Movie about an independent feature film being shot in my hometown. I peopled it with Altmanesque characters and, after finishing it, I thought, ‘This is about as fine as I can write. This is my best novel.’
It was accepted for publication by Aqueous Books, the same lovely small press that did my collection Notes toward the Story and Other Stories. It garnered glowing blurbs from Ann Beattie, Cary Holladay, Stephen Tobolowsky (actor/author), Chris Ellis (actor), William Hjorstberg and Peter Coyote (actor, author). Aqueous designed a dynamite cover for it. I was a happy writer.
Then, about a month ago, I got a nightmare letter from the press. They were folding. I was crushed. I cursed, threw things, beat my chest, rent my garments, and pissed and moaned like a mother whose child had been taken from her. I wallowed in self-pity. I was ready to give up writing.
Then, after about 24 hours of this pitiable display, I hiked up my trousers and sought help from friends who are smarter than me. I received commiseration and help from some well-placed friends, and one such friend, Peter Coyote, who had blurbed the book, really went to bat for me. He immediately endeavored to find me an agent and he sent a query to his editor at Counterpoint Books, Jack Shoemaker. Mr. Shoemaker is a legend in publishing. A few of the authors he ushered into print are Wendell Berry, David Markson, Beryl Markham, Gary Snyder and Guy Davenport. To cut a long story short, I received an email from Jack Shoemaker accepting the book and offering an advance. And to sweeten the deal, they thought enough of it that they streamlined the process so that it will appear on their Spring 2015 list, under one of their prominent imprints, Soft Skull Books (publishers of Tom Tomorrow, William T. Vollmann, Jonathan Lethem, Neil LaBute, Beck and Noam Chomsky, to name a few.)
I am a little pumped up about this. I am not the kind of person who takes it kindly when someone says something like, “When God closes a door he opens a window.” My pat response is, “Yes, to jump out of.” But this turned out better than I could have dreamed, not that it will turn me into an optimist. Anyway, thanks for listening. Today I feel like the luckiest writer in Memphis, or maybe in Midtown, or maybe just on Young Avenue. But it is enough. I am grateful.