When in doubt, bring on the vampires. That is, if you can’t do zombies. That’s the advice which prospective young authors should take from last week’s news that Ballantine was slapping down a cool $3.75 million for the North American rights to a postapocalyptic vampire trilogy. The author is one Justin Cronin, who’s won a passel of awards (like the PEN/Hemmingway) for previous books, neither of which seem to have anything in common with the genre-busting, megaplex-ready trilogy that he’s now indebted to produce. According to New York magazine, there’s good buzz—but that could just mean a couple of agents like the thing (one of whom is quoted as gushing, “Usually I hate this stuff, and I love it!”).
One has to wonder, though, given Cronin’s relatively tony pedigree, whether this development could auger a slew of New Yorker-worthy writers giving up their post-ironic depictions of collapsing marriages and damaged relationships for the wide-open fields of genre. After all, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, and Cormac McCarthy have already made the crossover. Just think of the possibilities: Ian McEwan’s lesbian vampire hunters! Khaled Hosseini’s teenage zombie massacre (in Kabul)! Gunter Grass’s alternate universe World War II manga series! And Sven Birkerts could launch his own space opera series in which bookish aliens descend upon Earth and threaten the species with extinction unless we learn to appreciate libraries more.
It’s a thought…
// Notes from the Road
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