Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a great detective story.  

Robert Galbraith published it to strong reviews, with an initial modest run of 500 to 1500 copies, depending on the source. The publishing house that took a risk with an unknown author has been well rewarded. Since the true identity has been revealed, the book has become a bestseller.

The last line , “I am become a name,” makes me think Rowling was delighting in assuming a new identity as much as she was reveling in creating a new character.
As a writer, publisher, and editor, the thing that I find both reassuring and depressing about l'affaire Galbraith is that it showed just how difficult it is -- even with a very good, very well reviewed book -- actually to get yourself a best-seller, unless you have a lot of luck or the kind of platform that J.K. Rowling has, and that very few other authors could even dream of. The Cuckoo's Calling was published by a first-rate commercial publisher, was given excellent press, had a great response from both professional reviewers and folks on sites like Goodreads -- and was sitting at an Amazon ranking of about 5,000 on the day that the news of Rowling's authorship broke. At a guess, I'd say that a ranking like that indicates daily sales through America's various commercial booksellers of about ten copies a day. Definitely respectable, but not leaping off of the shelves by anyone's measure. David Kudler at the Huffington Post
Rowling's  adventures in publishing are as interesting as the novels themselves. The riches brought by the Harry Potter series; the assured success of The Casual Vacancy, and the outing of The Cuckoo’s Calling. What else does this literary magician have up her sleeve?

1 comment:

Dosti SMS said...

An explosive debut for "Robert Galbraith" !

The gist of the novel is that a Private Investigator has been hired by the victim's brother to find out whether the supermodel committed suicide when by all accounts she was hale and happy or was it murder. It displays the sordidness of London and the paparazzi culture in agonizing detail and mercifully limits the royal references to 4.

As it proceeds, Rowling demonstrates her ability to present her characters with shifting shades rather tastefully. The detailed scene setting - be it the extraordinary detail of the pain of caused by the prosthetic and its removal or of a man living out of his kitbag for instance - proves to be at once her friend and foe. Readers accustomed to Forsyth's meticulously delicious plot setting and the glorification of detective work meet their doom in Cormoron Strike - who despite his dogged detective work, astute questioning and bluffing skills, comes across as resolutely 'regular'. In evoking the sense of danger and darkness through those details however, she succeeds superbly.

As an added exercise, a reader (especially the e-book ones for its easier to do this electronically) could count the no. of times the F word occurs in the book along with a few other choicest swear words than the Brits frequently employ - and perhaps how many times within a single sentence. ;)