Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cloning an Idea for an Event about a Novel about Cloning

I was chatting with several publishing folk at BookExpo about hidden author gems within driving distance of Milwaukee. When I mentioned to Maggie that it only cost $22 to take Amtrak from Chicago to Milwaukee, she assured me that was my hook.

She had just introduced me to her friend Gretchen.

"Hey, I'm working with a writer who lives in Appleton. Maybe we can put something together."

And so we did. Not only does Stephen Polansky live in the Appleton area, he became well know for writing his novel, The Bradbury Report, in the Copper Rock Coffee Company downtown. Just an aside, if you write a novel at Boswell or nearby environs, don't forget to tell us when it is published, or better yet, about six months beforehand.

And then we had the age-old argument--where to shelve the book.

Because Polansky plays off of Ray Bradbury, our initial instinct was to shelve it in science fiction. We had an interesting discussion with the author about this, because for every Fahrenheit 451 in science fiction, there is Brave New World, 1984, and The Handmaid's Tale that is shelved in general fiction. We couldn't even consider the thriller case because we simply have no room.

The story is set in 2071, in a society where clones are kept to harvest body parts as part of our health care program. The protagonist, a retired professor named Ray Bradbury, is contacted by an old girlfriend on the run. She needs to hide a fugitive clone. In fact, it's Ray's clone, himself at 21.

In the end, we determined the book's genre, not just by doing what the author wanted, but by using the "put it in the section where the bookseller who likes it would expect to find it" model. Carl, who gave the book his staff rec, is more likely to read fiction. But he also reads mystery. (No, we're not going to shelve it in poetry--the model has it's limits.

Here's Carl's rec:
"This novel set in 2071 accomplishes a remarkable feat: it stays entertaining while exploring the social, ethical, and scientific questions surrounding a government human cloning program."

Carl told me he liked it a lot, though The Bradbury Report didn't end the way he expected it to. Books that end differently than you expect? We'll save that for another post.

Meet Steven Polansky at Boswell on Thursday, July 23rd, at 7 PM. Read more about what led to Polansky writing this book, and how he wound up in Appleton, in this article in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

1 comment:

Daniel Goldin said...

Hey, Gang! Just a reminder that the event with Steven Polansky is Thursday, July 23rd, at 7 PM.