Of course, it may be that I live in a western suburb of Nashville, TN and not in NYC, but I just haven't had much in the way of those experiences. While I've had a few at work ask me about whatever book I had at the time, sadly, no young ladies wanted to go out for coffee (even if I don't drink it) because I had the latest Gene Wolfe or John Scalzi. If only...*sigh*
This is what happens when someone reads a galley (a.k.a. ARC, or advance reading copy) in public: publishing people take notice and begin to wonder about certain things. There’s the galley’s provenance, of course. But what about its owner? Where does he work? Does she like the same things I do? Is he single? It’s almost like a secret society, a world of readers set apart from the majority, bonded together by their ability to spot a galley in the first place, and to know what possessing such an object means. These people can find each other in parks, coffee shops and, perhaps most often, subway cars.
“Books are pretty much the only thing I might conceivably be interested in having a conversation with a stranger about. I feel like at least once a week I see someone reading a book that I know is not out yet,” said Nick Antosca, a 25-year-old novelist who used to review books for The New York Sun. “I saw someone reading the new Chuck Palahniuk book before it came out and I was like, ‘Oh, shit, I want to get that!’ I wondered whether she was a reviewer or if she worked at the publishing house.”
She could have been an agent, too—or a journalist, or a friend of the author. All of these, Mr. Antosca said, are “kind of interesting.”
Interesting because if you see someone clutching an early copy of Roberto Bolano’s 2666, coming this fall from FSG, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have a lot to talk about if you find a way to transmit your appreciation for their treasure across the L train.
“If you’re reading a galley on the subway, and someone comes to talk to you, you’re going to share a lot of things in common with them,” said Tom Meaney, the former literary editor of The New York Sun, who is currently a graduate student of modern European history at Columbia. “You can have the right jeans or the right purse or whatever … but if you’re reading How Fiction Works in March, you know, three months before the book comes out, and you get the one girl who is interested in [New Yorker literary critic] James Wood, well …” Our imagination is going wild! “It’s just an incredibly selective object.”
But I can say, 650 pages in, that 2666 might be worth some of the "buzz" that some outside of certain SF/F circles might be hearing now. So far, it's akin to The Savage Detectives, but more sprawling, with a middle section that is very violent and personal to read. I expect Bolaño will receive quite a bit of attention from the awards people after its November English translation release.