A favor for a friend

Good morning/evening, esteemed forum denizens,

A good college friend who’s far more successful than I’ll ever be has been, over the last year or so, pursuing his own adventures in the fiction realm. Unlike me, he’s choosing to opt for traditional publishing, which means he needs to deal with such things as query letters.

He asked me to do him a favor and share it with my writing circle for feedback, as he has with whatever groups he frequents, and I gladly obliged. I thought this was pretty good (I’m afraid to admit I haven’t read the manuscript it references yet, although I hope to if it gets published), and if any of you could spare a few minutes to take a look and give some feedback, I’ll gladly pass it along:

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Clara Wei lives life by a simple principle: everyone loves cheese (even the lactose-intolerant, although they’re loath to admit it). Her career depends on it: she is a cheesemonger, the sole proprietor of Las Vegas’s most well-regarded cheese shop, and she occupies her time negotiating contracts with private chefs and grim hotel dining managers (none of whom share her enthusiasm for her trade). When the presidential motorcade passes by her shop and narrowly avoids running over one of her most loyal customers, the thought occurs to her: that president guy loves cheese too!

Genevieve Somerset, Clara’s now-irate customer, desires to help out her long-time friend and exact petty revenge on the man in charge. She’s in a good position to do so, being the second-in-command of the Pianists, an international crime syndicate that’s recently been trafficking in Peruvian antiquities. The following day, Genevieve brings Clara a gift: a magical stone she says is enchanted to grant wishes through the most contrived means possible. Naturally, Clara’s wish is to provide the cheese board for the next presidential banquet (Genevieve would have wished for immortality or something like that, but she respects Clara’s commitment). Genevieve isn’t one to believe in superstition, but she can’t find any buyers for the stone, and Clara is really into this cheese thing for whatever reason, so why not?

One army of guerrilla squirrels and one rap battle ala Gilbert and Sullivan with the reincarnation of Winston Churchill later, and Clara must confront the truth: being a cheesemonger is a noble profession, but some things in life are more important than a wedge of Cambozola.

Prelude in G Minor is a 95,000 word work of literary fiction that combines the lucidity of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous with the slapstick wit of The Master and Margarita , laying bare the significance of the seemingly minor decisions we make every day. I have contributed multiple op-eds on foreign policy to (internationally regarded newspaper), and have lectured at (US top 20 university).

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I love the sense of the absurd that I get to by the end of it.

What I do not like is that it didn’t feel that absurd at the very beginning. More accurately: without a cover to go off of, that first paragraph and a bit more would lose me because I would assume that they are trying to take themselves seriously as a romance and had to say cheese too often.

Overall, once I caught on, I’m like, that’s one hell of a trainwreck, and I’m game, even if it is possibly a teaching tool.

Part of that is on me: 3:40 in the morning. But being realistic, for me to read this thing instead of looking for a favorite author’s books, I’m not going to give it a ton of thought.

BUT: there are other cues. There’s a cover, title choice, subtitling on the front cover, possible recommendations by other readers, so it’s not a deal breaker.

Basically: you teach deep thought by a funny, make sure your blurb starts off hella funny and leaves the teacher mode for the end.

But by the time we get to the SQUIRREL moment, I’m smirking, so it does eventually get there.

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