The bees are in full voice today, Jim thought to himself as he tended to his rooftop apiary. The customers at Freyja, the café he owned in Ridgewood, would soon be clamoring for more of the bounty of these hives. It came from a special breed, Apis laboriosa, native to the Himalayas, who produced a honey less sweet than store bought, with strong notes of tartness. How like life itself, Jim thought. How like his life.
When he first opened Freyja, there was nothing around it for miles. They told him he was foolish to quit his job at Goldman Sachs and open a café where no one lived. Back then, the café’s only neighbors were a check cashing business, a down-in-the-mouth community center, and a hospital that would soon close down. Now people lined up at dawn on days when the honey was available. Jim could produce more of it, but the bees were sensitive. You could only ask so much of them. Also, he had received complaints when some of the oversized bees broke away from his colony and built their own hive in the jungle gym at the local playground.
I’ve been writing fiction for a really long time, though not without hiatus. I occasionally go through crises of faith with it, because both market-wise and creatively, this is probably one of the worst periods for fiction in America, possibly ever. After The Baby was born, I found my worldview and my time so altered that I felt I couldn’t write it any more. I didn’t see things the way I used to, and I also lacked the acres of time needed to get into a fiction “groove”.
That’s the biggest reason why I channeled my literary ambitions into this blog, because it satisfied my desire to write and didn’t require me to lock myself in a soundproof vault for 12 hours. For a long time, fiction was such a slog for me and with so few avenues for exposure, I simply had no desire to write it any more. It was quicker and much more enjoyable to write funny ha-ha’s here.
Lately, for reasons too varied and arcane to get into here, I’ve decided to dive back into fiction. I’m working on a novel I’d all but abandoned a few years ago when it hit the 100 page mark, because I think the idea behind it is still relevant. I’m trying to power through an admittedly sub-par first draft so I can revise it and hopefully finish it some time early next year. I’ve been feeling really good about it. I’ve received lots of encouragement. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And then I read this and felt like throwing the whole thing in the garbage. Because when the fiction world can still stomach a vile specimen like James Frey, do I really want to associate myself with it?
For those of you don’t want to read the whole article or don’t enjoy vomiting, I’ll give you the gist of it. It’s a piece in New York magazine by Suzanne Mozes about Frey, who you may remember from such frauds as A Million Little Pieces (the “memoir” that turned out to be largely made up). What’s he been up to, other than not acquiring any sense of shame? He’s established a company called Full Fathom Five.
The firm specializes in YA fiction series, on the principle that if you sit a thousand struggling, desperate writers in front of a thousand typewriters, eventually one of them will write the next Harry Potter. It is the fiction equivalent of a veal pen, and is as much of a shell game as anything Bernie Madoff ever cooked up. Continue reading A Million Little Pieces of Crap→