Missed Opportunities, Nostalgia and (More!) Name Dropping

In keeping up with my theme of the week of reading something then writing about it, the New York Times (I still read the Times!) just published an article about an upcoming piece in Esquire (I also read Esquire!) entitled Esquire Publishes a Diary That Isn’t” that details how Esquire assigned a writer to write a first-person fictionalized account of Heath Ledger’s last days. Because Ledger just died, Times cites the move as controversial but David Granger, the Esquire editor, defends the piece as just what Esquire does:

“It’s an earnest effort,” he said, adding that the magazine has tried to tackle fiction using a nonfiction playbook before. “We’ve been trying to assign fiction,” he said, “to make it topical, relevant. To go to writers with a headline or an idea.”

From what I know of the magazine, this is a path they’ve been riding down in a very real way for more than a year and, I think, is cool and promising for young fiction writers that like Esquire’s style. I enjoy magazines that are willing to push boundaries (as long as they clearly label their efforts) and yes, I love Esquire. I might not always love everything they put in there, but I enjoy the creative efforts put forth. All I’m saying is that if Esquire wanted to casually date me, I would consider it. But telling you this is, of course, just an excuse to mention something about Esquire that is relevant to my own life. (If you’re keeping track at home, I’ve now said the word Esquire 9 times in two paragraphs. Eat that, Lit Classes!)

 Several months ago, I spoke to (name drop!) Tom Chiarella, the Esquire fiction editor, when I was writing a profile of the writer James Boice, whose fiction first appeared in the pages of Esquire and closely resembled a fictional account of the Kobe Bryant rape accusations from several years ago, and he reiterated this push for relevant “urgent” fiction. Chiarella seems like one of those great editors who knows a lot about writing, life, and clever things to claim on your tax returns, but lacks the monstrous ego that you normally associate with people in those positions of power. We talked for over an hour about the magazine and good fiction and he’d also stated that they were looking for fresh, new voices for fiction and asked if there was anyone up in Boston that he should be checking out.

Of course, I recognized this as my “chance”, this fluid, seminal moment of connection when a spot opens up and you have a window of opportunity to both show and tell, and that later on in life, after I was demanding 20 K for guest speaking fees and had my own live-in hairdresser/masseuse, I would look back on this moment with a bit of nostalgia as I was getting my sideburns evened out, but, alas, it was not to be so. My only short story– something about dating a reality star while living in Zurich and pretending to be a travel writer– needs at least eleven more drafts to be acceptable. So I said I would think about it, asked him if he liked Sam Lipsyte, and then we hung up. Then I think I (internally) cried at my explicit dropping of the ball and proceeded to eat several blueberry Ego Waffles with (NON) low calorie Mrs. Buttersworth AND real butter. Obviously, I’m totally over it.   

Anyway, I don’t really remember what we were talking about. I’m overcome with emotions. Enjoy your weekend. I’m now going to wallow in self-pity until tomorrow night when I wallow in guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

I will never stop loving the songs of 1998.

All for,

Sister Hazel

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9 thoughts on “Missed Opportunities, Nostalgia and (More!) Name Dropping

  1. Kevin Alexander

    It’s amazing to me that a British company that sells gold would be so interested in my blog. It was probably the Sister Hazel song. Studies show that British companies LOVE Sister Hazel. Cool advertising tactic, wow gold. I will now start deleting your comments. (I like how I’m talking to the post as if it’s some dude (or woman!) I can shame and not a computer program)

  2. Kevin Alexander

    I know. I don’t have any excuses except that part of the story is still in a notebook and part of it is saved onto my gmail account. THAT is an excuse though!!!

    I’m an idiot, friends. Especially because the worst news is that if i had gotten the story published, I would’ve bought everyone Alphasmarts!!!

  3. Anna

    I’m sorry, hashing over the "why not’s" is a habit I’ve never developed. Dude, if you had something, you should have said something. H***, say it now. You never know if you don’t try. It might have been famous but you were worrying about redrafts.

  4. Tom

    Holy crap, Genevieve is right! Reese’s peanut butter eggs!!!

    Oh, there was something about fiction to this blog, wasn’t there? I’ve never read Esquire, and I find this idea of "pertinent/urgent" fiction interesting. I don’t know what to make of the whole thing.

    I’ll refrain from making comments about another one of your stories, Kev, because the last time I did it I would up looking like a moron.

    Oh, but if Mr. Chiarella finds an unfilled need for a writing duo made up of guys with last names that could also be first names, we should totally get all over that. If you wanna pitch that idea to him, I promise I’ll text you the next time Kim Kardashian hits me up on a gala event.

  5. Genevieve

    But…but…but…DUDE! It’s not too late! Send him the short story, man! Say, "Oh, I’ve thought of someone. Tell me…do you enjoy the fictitious works of men whose last names could also be their first names?…Splendid! I have a short story for you." Is it REALLY eleven drafts until you’re finished or is that your internal over-editor?
    Should you really take advice from me? Probably not. I’ve only had one work of fiction appear in one tiny lit anthology which I didn’t get paid for, but I know enough to know that the worst he could say is no, right? Are you tired of hearing that line? "The worst they can say is no?" I will try to think of less cliche motivational lingo and get back to you.
    And remember (in case you’re still feeling low this weekend) Easter candy is now for sale everywhere. Some Reese’s peanut butter cup eggs will set you to rights.