Sunday, September 25, 2005

GERARD JONES REDUX

Not content with finally getting his Ginny Good published by Monkfish Book Publishers after 50,000 rejections (sic) Gerard is now putting his GINNY GOOD out in audio at his own expense. Some writers never give up.



At first the narrator seems to be a sad little character with a huge grudge:

I'm gonna fight em all
A seven nation army couldn't hold me back
They're going to rip it off
Taking their time behind my back


Gerard Jones and I are in a golf cart just outside Ashland Oregon and listening to the local rock station.

White Stripes/Seven Nations Army is talking about the recording industry, its hype and money-oriented manipulation, but as far as Gerard Jones in concerned, it might as well be the American book publishing industry.

"They're money grubbers all. Tin ears when it comes to judging good literature. When it comes to real writin' those dumb kids just out of college wouldn't know a good manuscript from a Dr. Phil show."

For forty years and more, Gerard Jones was that sad little character with a big grudge. He had been rejected 5,000 times by agents and publishers in the U.S., U.K and Canada.

He strongly identifies with the White Stripes song that has once again broken into our conversation.

And I'm talking to myself at night
Because I can't forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And a message from behind my eyes
Says leave it alone...

"Yeah, it was a tough time, years and years of it. I just had to have my beautiful novel published. GINNY GOOD. It's the greatest book not only of the last, but of this century." He says this in all sincerity. "I kick everybody's ass he says. "I kick Kurt Vonnegut's ass. I kick Bob Dylan's ass. I'm the greatest writer since Nabokov."

That was his attitude through the last 40 years of his publishing go-round. He simply had to find a home for his GINNY GOOD. Five thousand rejections. Six thousand.

I am about to turn the radio down, but something of the near-apocalyptic tone of the song and it's inner sanctum bassline holds me back. The song is exactly what we're talking about.

Don't want to hear about it
Every single one's got a story to tell
Everybody knows about it
From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell
And if I catch you coming back my way
I'm going to serve it to you
And that ain't what your wanna hear
But that'swhat I'll do
And the feeling coming from my bones
Says find a home.

It took Gerard Jones at least twenty years to find a home for his GINNY GOOD but find it he did after he invented a website, EVERYONE WHO'S ANYONE IN ADULT TRADE PUBLISHING. On the website he lists every last agent and publishing house who had rejected him and added comments about those folks, some of them verging on the obscene and scatological. But list them he did, all six thousand of them. The result was not only an overground publishing for Gerard Jones, but a treasure trove of addresses and references for budding authors. In the space of just a few weeks, EVERYONE WHO'S ANYONE IN ADULT TRADE PUBLISHING--AND TINSELTOWN TOO received six thousand hits and five years later the hits keep on coming, especially after Monkfish Book Publishing Company finally issued Ginny Good to good reviews. Sample:

"Months after reading GINNY GOOD I still see the vivid images author Gerard Jones shared with his readers...Jones brings about a careless insouciance to GINNY GOOD. An early hippie devil-may-care effem-if-they-can't-take-a-joke attitude that pretends to mask deeper feelings. Pretends, of course, because it's clear that Jones cares deeply about everything that befalls him and Ginny and the others we meet in GINNY GOOD. And he wants us to know he cares, but he wants us to find our own way to that conclusion. It is this intelligent respect for the intelligence of of his readers that makes GINNY GOOD work at several levels...GINNY GOOD is an excruciating coming of age at a time when the world was falling apart."

"Like it is now," says sharp-faced tufted-haired Gerard Jones as he turns up the radio. (I had been about to remark on a book by Margaret MacMillan in this self- same issue of January magazine and Linda L. Richards' comments on "Rideau Hall, History and Current Occupants," but it seemed tamer fare than the Ginny Good review). Jones is a little tired of America and wants a way out. He does insist that he may be too talented and too hip for America. He claims he was Haight-Ashbury's original hippie. He's still extremely hip. Neo Haight-Ashbury. Like The White Stripes.

I'm going the Wichita
Far from this opera for evermore
I'm going to work the straw
Make the sweat drip out of every pore
And I'm bleeding and i'm bleeding
Right before the Lord
All the words are gonna bleed from me
And I will think no more
And the stains coming from my blood
Tell me go back home.

Too talented for America, Gerard Jones insists. "Too hip for America, like those musicians.

"The critics haven't missed my books, but sales are down. At least I got it published the way I wanted it published. I can just pick it up and stare at it." A little wind whips up and plants a dry read oakleaf just under his chin. He wipes the red wire-consistent mesh away from his Adidas hoodie. "I love Ashland. But there's something wrong with America. We knew that right through the sixties and it hasn't ended. He points his putter toward a distant mountain, whose other side is California. Yeah, Haight Ashbury. Now full of the new Bohemians, all money, all bling-bling, all credit cards and no talent. The Bohos are all gone. But I'm still here. Where we gonna go to?

"Maybe like White Stripes, I might end up going to Wichita."

He stops the cart and turns off the radio.

"Right now, I'm playing golf. A hole for every stroke. Bring 'em all on. Bring on Mike Weir. Bring on Tiger Woods. I can whip his ass too."

There is something of Willie Nelson about Gerard Jones. Brash on the outside. Deep on the inside.

Something is happening here.

--Ivan Prokopchuk

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tiger Woods? No way I could take him on. It was a "comments" thing.
GG

Jennifer said...

I do wonder where all the good literature is hidden. It seems that people are trying to write books for the masses - trying to cover every base vs just trying to write a good book. Like the sudden emergence of the "chick lit" genre.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Yeah, I wonder about it too.
I notice that even the young Canadian guys
tend to slip into an acceptable genre. Like Renegade Press on Television Ontario. Renegade Press a good example of the Degrassi theme, but it would bore me to tears to cold-bloodedly write something like that. I did try to ape a Harlequin novel once, and you know something? Familiar bathroom substance is hard to
write.
Yet as Joseph Conrad might have said, "Writing a good book does not guarantee either its actual publishing nor its acceptance by the masses. There are other factors, many other factors." I guess he knew what he was talking about, writing first in Polish, then French, and then English for the proof copy...And then he comes out with a book like The Secret agent, which, over a hundred years ago, predicted our current state of affairs. I guess you have to be part spy. In Canada, through a complicated granting system, the publisher gets about 25 per cent of the grant money. Doesn'lt much matter if the book is a dog; they usually are, and for political reasons.
I think Gerard Jones has produced a flawed masterpiece. But his politics. Oh, his politics!
Ivan

Anonymous said...

Scobleizing Microsoft's corporate culture
Microsoft's chief blogger Robert Scoble goes directly to the top. Corporate bloggers take note.
Find out how you can buy & sell anything, like things related to music on interest free credit and pay back whenever you want! Exchange FREE ads on any topic, like music!

Gerard Jones said...

Flawed, my ass. It's a perfect masterpiece. And politics is for pussies. Thanks. G.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

The last thing I want to do is get into a bitch fight with Gerard Jones.
Ivan

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