A good friend commented to me recently about how she’s sometimes surprised by the random facts I’m able spew off the top of my head about writers. (I think she meant useless facts, but she’s a nice person so I appreciated her careful choice of words.) I fully admit, when I’m interested in a writer I definitely geek out.
Case in point—I just finished reading The Girls, by Emma Cline. First of all, let me just say, this book is AMAZEBALLS. (Yes, that’s a technical term. But, seriously, a fictional version of the Manson girls—how can that not be interesting?) Not only is this story incredible, but Emma Cline’s writing is so good that I’d go so far as to compare her to Adele. Why Adele you ask? Well, Adele is one of those freakishly talented people who leaves you in awe while subsequently reminding you of how incredibly average you are. So, yep, Emma Cline is definitely like Adele and, yes, she’s that good. As soon as I finished reading The Girls I found myself wondering about the person behind those perfectly-crafted words. I admit, part of me hoped she was a middle-aged struggling writer who’s been shopping this novel around the publishing industry for years while tapping away on her computer in the wee hours of the night and slugging through her days fueled by coffee and daydreams. But, no such luck. Emma Cline is way cooler than that.
As the daughter of California winemakers, Cline is so smart and so gifted that she finished high school at the age of 16. While taking a year off between high school and college she became a freelance reporter, and pursued a pilot’s license. From there she went on to achieve her MFA from Columbia, won a prestigious award for one of her short stories, became a fiction reader for The New Yorker, and signed with a literary agent while working on the UNFINISHED manuscript of The Girls—all before the age of 25. According to an article on Vulture.com, there were 12 publishers pinning for The Girls, but the winning bid came from Random House in the form of a three-book deal ringing in with the sweet tune of a $2 million advance. (And that’s not even talking about the royalties for a book that’s been on the New York Times Bestsellers list since it came out in June.)
Well done, Emma Cline, well done.
And, if that’s not enough for you, here’s a few more cool facts about Emma Cline: she now lives in makeshift shed in a friend’s backyard, and prior to the cult fame of The Girls (no pun intended) she had no Twitter account, no blog and most surprising of all, no smartphone. (I do love my smartphone, Emma Cline, but I’m pretty sure we could be friends.)
Moral of this story—books are pretty cool, but sometimes writers are something to geek out about, too. And … READ The Girls! In case you haven’t caught on yet, I think it’s damn good. (Maybe get it right now, it’s definitely more interesting than the presidential debate going on as I write this. Just saying.)
Because I love quotes, I’ll send you off with a good one …
“I’m used to the isolated part of writing, the part where you’re doing a lot of work alone, in solitude.” – Emma Cline (Interview from July 2016 Paris Review)