Rejecting the Gray Flannel Suit for Literary Tweed


By Neal Comment

mblogo.jpg_MG_2303.jpgOur sisterblog, mbToolbox, scores an interview with James P. Othmer and learns how the former Young & Rubicam creative director worked his advertising background to his advantage in the reviews for his debut novel, The Futurist: “The ex ad-guy angle probably got me a lot more press, because the middle-aged white guy writes a book angle isn’t the most differentiating way to position a supposedly literary novel.” He also discusses how the novel went from a first chapter published in the Virginia Quarterly Review (where it landed a National Magazine Award nomination for fiction) to a completed manuscript:

“A few days after it came out, agents began to call me rather than me scratching at their doors. Then a friend directed me to David Gernert, who loved the early pages and, more importantly, seemed to get me and what I was trying to do better than anyone else ever had… I cranked on the last third of the book. David sent it out on a Wednesday and we had three offers by Thursday morning. And the edit. Pessimist that I am, I was all set to get my back up the air and take a stand against the horrible suggestions that were to come (advertising prepared me well for this), but Bill Thomas at Doubleday wrote me this brilliant letter, six or seven single-spaced pages that praised the book and then suggested what we might want to do to make it better. Shockingly, I agreed with almost everything Bill said.”