20 December 2012 § 3 Comments
As I wrapped up the final book project for Folded Word’s 2012 list, I realized that my subconscious might be driving our paperback acquisitions. The last word of Guy Cranswick’s Nine Avenues (to be released by New Year’s Eve) is home. As is the last word of Mel Bosworth’s Freight (2011). Add to that the prevalence of homesickness and the redefinition of home that takes place in Smitha Murthy and Dorothee Lang’s Worlds Apart (2012) along with the analysis of childhood environs in Jessie Carty’s Paper House (2010) and you have the concept of home being central to every non-anthology paperback that Folded Word has published to-date.
Now I am a scientist by training (MS Biology 1995), so I understand that correlation does NOT equal causation. My search, whether conscious or subconscious, is not the only reasonable explanation for the prevalence of home in my print selections. Alternatives might be:
- Home is a central concept for most humans, therefore it plays a key role in most manuscripts.
- Being a competent writer requires a degree of “square peggedness” because the societal tension created by not fitting in allows a person to more objectively observe the world and its inhabitants, thereby creating a yearning to find a place to fit in (i.e. social/emotional home). The resultant observations form the basis of the conflicts that make written work interesting.
- The appearance of home in these books is mere coincidence. Random. A fractal-like artifact of our chaotic submissions queue.
- These books haven’t actually been about home at all, I just projected that onto them. [Any thoughts, my long-suffering authors?]
I’m not sure how aggressively to explore this. It’s difficult to design any kind of scientific analysis since there can be a 2-3 year lag between the time a submission is accepted and the book actually makes it into print. But I think it would be really interesting if, after the relocation issue is settled and I’m home (where/whatever that ends up being), Folded never publishes a home-centric book again.
I would love to hear alternate theories or support/rebuttal of the theories above. I’d also love to know if you’ve recently read any books that deal with the concept of home, or even if you are writing one yourself. The comments section below is ready and waiting for your input:-)
10 December 2012 § 3 Comments
HOME. It’s a Middle English word with Old English, Old Norse, and Old Germanic roots. It’s a word with a long list of meanings. It’s also a word that has consistently caused me angst, especially when filling in the “home town” blank on social media info pages. I have moved around quite a bit—not as much as military kids, but enough to make the concept problematic—and it always seems to me that to answer the question with one place denies the experience and friends of another place.
In a fortnight, I will embark on a year-long quest to answer the question: What is home? This is a personal journey (I would never presume to attempt tackling this in any universal sense) made necessary by a health crisis set off by my well-intentioned purchase of a memory-foam mattress 18 months ago. But more about that in the coming year. Right now I have to focus on packing for the first leg of this journey: six weeks in rural New Hampshire, beginning on Christmas Eve.