No one likes rejection. But all authors have their own share before their masterpieces become accepted by one, a few or millions. Today I welcome Mona Simpson who talks about how she has faced rejection. Welcome Mona!
PS. If you're in the US, don't forget to enter the giveaway for Mona Simpson's endearing new novel, Casebook. You can check out my review here.
A Rejection by Mona Simpson
Once, years ago, I was told I would receive a prize I very much wanted. This happened during a precarious time in my life. I’d recently given birth to my first child and was just getting back into a novel I’d been working on for years, and that still held years of work ahead. I’d meant to finish the book before the baby was born. I’d moved back to LA, where I'd grown up, but I hadn't lived here for years and my best friends from those days had dispersed. No one in our household slept through the night. But I’d found a coffee shop I liked, where I brought my laptop twice a day and worked. I’d begun to recognize a few other regulars, who read or typed on laptops. One man scribbled ferociously on yellow legal pads. Then, after a few months, on a Thursday afternoon a young man behind the corner told me that I was going to be named Customer of the Week. This actually thrilled me. He smiled and touched my hand, handing me my Americano. He was younger than I was, by at least a decade.
The current customer of the week was represented on the counter in a polaroid snapshot taken with his dalmation. The sitting customer of the week was entitled to unlimited free coffee every day of his or her reign, the small sign said, but it wasn’t primarily the savings I coveted. I was new here and too much alone. I loved feeling I’d found a place I belonged. A writers’ work is of course, necessarily and sometimes regrettably solitary, but I felt recognized by others of my kind.
The next Monday, I returned to the coffee shop. I’d made sure to put on a clean shirt, thinking of the picture that would have to be taken. I brought my son in the stroller in his best little outfit, too. No mention was made of the transfer of the title as I ordered my drip that morning. Not that afternoon either when I came to work. Tuesday, I noticed, when I bought my second espresso, that the previous customer of the week’s picture with his dalmation had disappeared. I actually stooped to the craven length of going up to the counter for three coffees on Wednesday, just to remind the judges – whoever they were – that I was there. By Thursday morning, another customer of the week had been named: not me. A guy with his bike in the small picture. OK, I thought, perhaps there’s a backup. I’d have to wait my turn. I kept attending my coffee shop week after week as it gradually became apparent that this prize was going to elude me. Such, I suppose, is transitory nature of conferred distinction. I never saw the young man who’d told me of my selection again. He was young enough to have not showed up for work one day, if a better adventure presented itself – it was the end of the summer. I imagined a girl calling him to drive a car with her crosscountry. He must have left or been fired and forgotten the promise that meant something to me. How often do those who chose or just as easily reject us give the matter only a flicker of thought?
By then, though, I’d hired a babysitter -- a recent boy graduate in a flannel shirt whom I'd talked to at the sugar and milk station, who babysat for us for years as he began his own life as an aspiring screenwriter. He would eventually succeed, but that was far in the future. For right then, I was OK. I’d gotten to know some of the other regulars and I’d found the thread of my novel. And a few of us had decided to start a book group.
Synopsis of Casebook: A Novel by Mona Simpson: From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents’ private lives. And even then he can’t stop snooping.
Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family’s well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.
About Mona SimpsonMona Simpson is the author of Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. Off Keck Road was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the Heartland Prize of the Chicago Tribune. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim grant, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, and, recently an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Connect with Mona Simpson on Facebook and Twitter.
1 paperback (US)
Check out the rest of the tour here.
Read my review here.
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf (April 15, 2014)
Publisher: Knopf (April 15, 2014)