The other day I was going through a stack of books being sent back to the main library. We rotate our collection periodically and books that have been on the shelf for too long get sent back to be replaced with newer books. I always flip through ones that catch my eye, even though most of them are romance, mystery, or realistic fiction, and I usually don’t read those genres.
One of the books that caught my attention was Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg. Since it’s about reading, writing, and publishing, I looked at the book description. The heroine is a reader named Angel Robinson who lands a dream job working for a publishing agent. However, the job is harder than it looks because she’s constantly trying to balance her dragon-like boss’s ego with finding and polishing good book submissions. The struggle keeps her on her toes. But things get creepy when Angel receives an anonymous (“blind”) submission and the contents of the manuscript mirror her own life. As subsequent chapters of the book appear in her inbox, along with intimate revelations of her lie and thinly veiled threats, Angel must play a game of cat-and-mouse that might quickly become deadly.
After I finished reading the front leaf, I wrinkled my nose and said, “Really? This idea is too flimsy and relies way too much on coincidence to be believable.”
Then I realized that I’ve accepted far more fantastical worlds and concepts without batting an eye, but the plot of a realistic fiction/light mystery novel was too far-fetched to give credence to. I read books filled with dragons and elves and space ships and time travel and genetic manipulation and accept it all. But the idea of a publishing assistant getting her life e-mailed to her in the form of a blind submission from a possible stalker made me snort and dismiss it. And it isn’t just this novel; I’ve tried perusing other realistic fiction and more mainstream fiction and found it lacking.
I’m not sure. The idea is still rather amorphous in my mind and I’m not sure how to explore or describe it. Like so many things that cross my mind, it’s more of a vague feeling or certainty that I don’t quite have the words for. I suppose part of it has to do with how I think. I’ve never found real life very interesting, so I’ve never understood why people would read books that mirror real life. Then I got older and realized that a lot of “realistic” fiction is about as real as reality television. The people and situations aren’t really real themselves and the attempt to inject drama into an otherwise mundane world usually feels forced to me.
Not so with fantasy. Fantasy cries out for drama, for high stakes and hi-jinks. Everything in it feels more intense and vibrant to me, more real as odd as that sounds. Throwing me into a world that isn’t like reality automatically gets my attention. There’s an element present in fantasy that isn’t there in reality or realistic fiction, or even in the modern mysteries that I’ve read. And I’m not saying that realistic fiction is bad; they just aren’t to my taste. I don’t find them interesting. And why would I spend time reading something I didn’t find interesting, or at least entertaining?
But I do find it interesting that my mind accepts genetically engineered dragons on a colony planet that are telepathically linked with their human riders and are used to burn parasitic organisms from the sky without question….but I think a publishing assistant with a possible stalker is too far-fetched. It’s interesting to see what our minds accept…and reject.