It would seem literary agents are a lot like NY Times trend reporters—the last to figure out what’s going on. Thursday’s books story was about Manhattan literary agents taking the daring plunge and moving their offices to… gasp… Brooklyn. (Representative late-90s outerborough concern quote: David Black, looking at the East River: ““Is water a barrier to clients? Is it a barrier to the business?”)
Susan Golomb (agent to Jonathan Franzen and William T. Vollman—I’d paid big dollars to just watch those two hang out), no doubt considering the efficacy of modern bridges and tunnels in avoiding water, rather more sensibly says, “My clients don’t care where my office is.”
Howard Morhaim, who has a small agency in Brooklyn Heights, says that once upon a time, “Agents who were outside of Manhattan were considered second class.” And now he gets to work on a silver scooter, “an easy feat on uncrowded Brooklyn sidewalks.” I repeat, and now he gets to work on a silver scooter.
Of course, Brooklyn is where all the writers live. In fact, there are too many writers in Brooklyn. Look to your left, go on, try it: whoever you see there is probably a writer or “does a little writing.” It’s depressing, really, the image of thousands of writers huddled over laptops in the converted maid’s quarters of a thousand brownstones, click-clacking away, thoughts of One Story glory and/or Tumblr book deals sparrowing around their noodles…
But here’s the thing, agents: BROOKLYN WRITERS WANT YOU TO STAY IN MANHATTAN. All of our silly dreams of literary ascendancy involve the glorious tropes of an earlier age, the kind of literary superstardom in which we get to wear white suits and are feted at fabulously expensive Manhattan restaurants. We don’t want to fucking meet with you at Junior’s or Dumont or wherever. We want “making it” to mean something and, for some writers anyway, making it in that big imaginary Manhattan still matters.
SO STAY OUT.