by Frances Duncan
by John Gabree
pretend for a moment that you are a filmmaker. You want to make a
picture about a subject that might normally be considered serious
— abortion, say, or drug abuse or prisons or race relations
or sexual harassment. Do you go to a motion picture company with a
project like this? No, because the businessmen who make movies are
reluctant to touch subjects that might tax the minds or unsettle the
emotion of the 12-year-olds who are the target audience. And so you
turn to television, where mini-series and movies-of-the-week routinely
take on heavy, emotionally charged subjects.
and for similar reasons, publishers of hardcover fiction are increasingly
turning their collective backs on difficult subjects. Best sellers,
like movie blockbusters, are made by creating products that appeal
to vast numbers of people. Like moviemakers, book publishers (or their
corporate overseers) are no longer content with modest profits overall.
Every book, it seems, must hit the profit bullseye.
Even a decade
ago a novel like “Finding Home” would have found a home
at a hardcover publishing house. Today it has wound up as a paperback
original, a cut above a comic book in the publishing pecking order.
This is fine for the readers who happen to discover the book, but
it is not so good for the author, who presumably loses out on prestige,
a paperback resale and other subsidiary benefits.
Home” somehow “unworthy” of publication in hardcover?
I don't think so. The novel is gracefully composed, the characters
are believable and the events are well-plotted. Most readers will
be touched. A story about the emotional impact of a couple's death
in a car crash on their family and friends, lacking any ghoulish or
occult overtones, it is simply too slight, however good, for most
hardcover publishers to bother with. Of course, appearing as a paperback
original makes it one of the lucky ones; many books like it are not
published at all anymore. At least, like similar works originating
in softcover, it stands some small chance of finding its audience.
Home by Frances Duncan