This week's Newsweek has a full-page review of a book titled Knock Yourself Up. It's a how-to for women who want to go the single-mother route. Whoop-de-do. This is 2007. In about 1978, with no understanding of what a book was, I tried to write one called And Baby Makes Two, a guide based on my experience of having decided to become a single mother in1975. I was a Seven-Sisters graduate with a j-o-b: evidently I was ahead of my time. I tried to sell my book, but there wasn't a market. Eventually I sold an autobiographical novel with the experience threaded through it, but it didn't put me out there as a spokesperson for single parenthood. It was fiction.
Last week as a birthday gift I received a book titled The Underachiever's Manifesto. It's published by Chronicle, a mainstream house. Big time for a book about failure. Hey, guys, what about my book in 1988 called Too Smart to Be Rich, a paean to failure? I predicted the ascent of George W. Bush when he was still drunk. We lionize the fool and the C+ human being. I said it in 1988. But my distributor went into Chapter 11, and while the book was selling like hotcakes and was syndicated by the New York Times, it died aborning. Nobody ever heard my pronouncements. Really, they were more like warnings when you look at the muddle we're in now in this country.
And then there's my last effort that has just about put a final nail in it. Right after Katrina, I sent a storm novel to my publisher. A great, dark, funny typical-me novel. And what do you know? The reading public is not ready for Katrina fiction. Two-plus years since the hurricane, and only three novels have appeared; mine's the only one that's not detective fiction. Publishers don't want them, readers don't want them, and one reviewer even said that my wealthy white protagonist wasn't the right "victim" of the storm. Ten years from now, people will be writing Katrina fiction. But not now. I'm out there hanging all by myself.
So this is what keeps happening. I have something to say. It reflects on what I'm doing. So I keep doing it, and I keep writing about it. People think I'm an oddball, and what I write strikes readers as exceedingly out of sync. But thirty, twenty, even ten years later, when I'm out of print, what I've written is dead-on. Prescience sucks.