Saturday, November 06, 2004

Never Give Up

Yesterday I was in my local library when a man came in and said "What happened to all the Barara Pym novels? I've been reading her and now they all seem to be missing."

The librarian looked her up on the computer. She was there. But when the librarian and the man went into the stacks Pym was, indeed, missing.

After a search Pym was discovered in the discard pile that was going to the Book Cottage. The BC is behind the library and is open from April through November Wednesdays and Saturdays. For a quarter or two dollars you can pick up some great stuff. Most of it is junk, but you never know. Now some lucky person will discover Barbara Pym.

Who was she?

Her first novel, Some Tame Gazelle, was published in 1950, followed by five more books. In 1963 the new chief editor of her publisher rejected An Unsuitable Attachment, because, as he wrote, "in present conditions we could not sell a sufficient number of copies to cover costs". In 1969 she sent The Sweet Dove Died, written in 1968, to many publishers, with no success. Discouraged, she stopped writing.

But in 1977 she got her revenge. The Times Literary Supplement asked some eminent literates to list the "most underrated novelist of the century". Barbara Pym is the only one who was mentioned twice, by poet Philip Larkin and by Lord David Cecil.

Pym was established as a major novelist. Her next novel, Quartet in Autumn, was readily accepted and she was able to publish two more books before her death in 1980.

The above bio is in thanks to Claudia Di Giorgio

But all those wonderful novels are going to the Book Cottage because in our library (and I suspect in most small libraries) if a book hasn't been taken out in two years more than once it's chucked out.

So if you're rejected, don't give up, and if you get accepted don't take yourself too seriously. You might wind up in the Book Cottage yourself someday. Still, in between you'll give some readers pleasure.

Read Pym.

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