Monday, July 11, 2005

Manuel Ramos, Again

I'm studying up on my Manuel Ramos. I find that I'm far behind. Everyone has heard of him. Everyone has admired his writing for years. And I'm such a slow reader that it'll be a month before I catch up. If he puts out another book, I'm screwed.

I finished "The Last Client of Luis Montez." Brilliant. Once again the writing is smooth as a baby's forearm. The plot is gripping. The prose is fluid. The story is tight. Nothing is wasted, everything has its use. Except maybe Percival and Frances. Not sure about that. Still, a great read.

So why isn't he at the top of the best seller's list? Aldo Calcagno asks. I have ten answers but I'm not sure which is right. Maybe they all are.

1. Ramos is latino. Montez is latino. Who wants to read about latinos? Sure I do. Maybe you do. But we need to convince a half million others to take the plunge.

2. Lots of good writers don't make the best seller's list. I'm pretty good, but I haven't made any lists. Good reviews, but no list. I've tried pretty hard to get my name out there, but no list. That's publishing.

3. Blame his publishers.

4. He did something in a previous life that keeps him mid-list. As a fairly traditional Christian, I can't endorse that one, but I toss it out there for your consideration.

5. Manuel Ramos is purposefully trying to keep a low profile. When the time is right, he will pounce on the publishing world, banish J.K. Rowling from the top of the NY Times bestseller's list, and, in fact, make that particular list useless as readers learn that besides his books in the top fifteen there will only be room for "Oh, The Places You Will Go!" by Dr. Seuss.

6. Oprah hasn't read him yet.

7. His books are simply too thin. Brevity is all well and good, but for bestseller status a book must be long (except for that one by Seuss) since it is in long books that humanity finds solace.

8. He writes about Denver. Denver is nice, but, well, it's Denver. Not exotic, not quaint. Just Denver. When he writes about Prague, Venice, or Havana, the money will come in so fast, he'll need to hire someone to count it. That person will be so overburdened that they'll request an assistant. Ramos will deny the request, and the money counter will have to resort to weighing the money in garbage bags.

9. Real work like lawyering and teaching keep Ramos from touring the country or mounting a serious promotional campaign.

10. Ramos is so good, other writers have conspired to keep him down. Without this conspiracy, it would just be him and Seuss. Have you seen the recent Cheerios commercials? The restaurant with nothing but Cheerios on the menu? The supermarket with aisle after aisle of Cheerios? Imagine a world where ONLY Manuel Ramos novels were for sale. True, that wouldn't be so bad -- I like both Ramos and Cheerios -- but it would be a disaster for writers.

If you've got a better idea, let me know. Reading "Blues for the Buffalo" next.


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