The Unknown: The Red Line.
  It was never easy to manage their raw talent. It would have been far easier to manage a raw squid. Talent is always difficult, and they had a lot of that, and that. They were erratic. They were a challenge. They were intellectuals, they were dynamic, and they excited me.

I wanted to spread that excitement. That is what I do. Most of my clients before the Unknown wrote genre fiction. Romance, Mystery, Suspense. I am a commercial person, and if you say that what I do is shallow, I won’t argue too vociferously. I am about buzz, making a good buzz, not always for good books, not always for books that I myself would read. This is the career that I have chosen. I’ll never change the world, but I know what makes a great headline. I know how to get reviews. I know how to place an artist anywhere from a chi-chi cocktail party to a university symposium. I can get you in the Village Voice. I can get you interviewed. I can get you a reading at a multiplicity of bookstores. I know how to bend the right ears. I’m good at what I do. I work the phones, I work the phones.

I have a B.A. from Vassar with a double major in English and Advertising. I like Victorian novels, how they take their time to fulfill a long slow arc, how they create a world from manners, how they turned the position of governess from a menial occupation to one that is heroic. I ride the streams of media, which shift from hour to hour. My Rolodex is voluminous. My friends say that I’m a fun drunk, when I drink, which I do on Saturday nights. I swing dance and I samba. I’m not very good at dancing, but I do it anyway and I have a blast. I’m single but I’m not lonely. The last time I had sex I wasn’t making love. He was a financial whiz-kid who worked for Citibank. It had been months and he told a good joke. He was cynical but was a decent lover. I wasn’t in love with him, but we had a few decent dates. I’m not looking for permanence. I don’t think I’ll meet Mr. Right, not in New York. None of that matters to me right now. I have a niece named Allysa and I take her to the movies every Tuesday night. I took her to see Titanic three times, and I’ll admit I cried the first two times.

I worked for an agency I won’t mention here before I set off on my own. I was tired of all the assignments they gave me. Mass market dross. I set off on my own and I took several of their “best” clients with me. Dick Thrush, author of the Nick Cabin, Clown Detective series; Celina Worble, author of the M is for Murder, L is for Love series; and Helena Cartwright, author of the Wide River, Long Lost Love pastoral romance series. I was paying $1,200 per month for a studio apartment on the Upper East Side, and my ends were barely meeting.

I was feeling kind of lonely and slightly desperate, financially, when I ran across the Hypertext of the Unknown. It was different and exciting. I thought the balding one was pretty cute. And, let me confess, let me be up front, it smelled like money, real money. And more than that, it smelled like Art. Can I describe to you how good those two things smell together? I can’t, so I won’t, but it is like a hot fudge sundae on a hot July afternoon after a good workout and a warm bath with your favorite moisturizing bath beads.

I was extremely interested in what they were doing and so I approached them. And they were approachable. What’s more, they needed me, they really needed someone like me. They liked me and I liked them. They were disorganized, barely in control. They had too many ideas and not enough time. So I made their arrangements. I magnified them. I broadcast them. I got them readings and interviews and appointments and shows. I made love to one of them, once. It was a breach of professionalism, but so what? It was discrete. It was a wonderful night in Trump Tower that I’ll never mention or forget. Silk sheets and a magnificent view, room service with coq au vin, strawberries, champagne and laughter.

New York is a big city. I take long walks at night in Central Park. The boys. I call them that, the boys, they call me on the cell-phone. Sometimes while I’m out walking. I tell them where to go and what to do, and they appreciate that. They are bigger than either they or I ever thought they could become. There was a hole in my life and they filled it. I’ve got more clients than I can handle, now, and I just got a new assistant. I hear 20 different languages every time I walk down the street. I eat 30 different types of cuisine. I often bump into old friends, from Brooklyn, or from prep school, or from Vassar, and most of them have become different, like we all do. Sometimes I get lonely, but not often. This is my life, and I am living it in New York City.

Audio Button
Read by Jane McIlmail 4/8/99
at Brown University
410K RealAudio Clip

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.