Thursday, April 10, 2008

Andrew Pyper Believes In Fairies

Andrew Pyper's new novel The Killing Circle is coming out in August. I didn't like Lost Girls, and I didn't like The Wildfire Season, but I'm prepared to consider TKC as if I'd found it coverless on a park bench. I'll read it as an anonymous work, and render my opinion as soon as it either pleases me or pisses me off.

I don't know what TKC's about, but I know what it isn't. A friend who works at Doubleday was telling me about the pitched battles they were having with Andrew over his book deal. He was due to submit something this year, and his Doubleday editor wasn't happy with Andrew's early chapters. Pyper was pushing a story about Muskokan fairies--literal fairies (nymphs, sprites, etc.)--who travel to Georgian Bay to torment a vacationing Toronto lawyer. The lawyer is involved in some kind of misconduct involving a real estate deal; the fairies are evicted from their home, causing them to travel to Georgian Bay to help the lawyer come to terms with the loss--literally the loss; not the death--of his father. The editor kept telling Pyper they couldn't and wouldn't publish an adult literary-fiction novel that had fairies as its central characters. (Apparently the father either was or became a fairy, too. It was basically Surfacing with fairies.) But Pyper kept insisting that the fairy book would sell. According to my friend, Pyper was adamant that "people wanted fairies." He [my friend] claims to be in possession of at least eight emails where Pyper defends at length the use of fairies in a serious novel. Pyper works his way from Sophocles through Dryden, and ends at Hugo von Hofmannsthal. That's when the editor told him to "fuck off and start working on a real book." Apparently Pyper was going to take his argument all the way through Marge Piercy, but unpaid fines forced Robarts Library to block his account.

Postscript: Claudia Dey liked the fairy idea so much that she's now working on her own interpretation of Pyper's truncated work. She's renamed the lead fairy "Mopsy," but otherwise the bones of the story remain the same.

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