People in movies and television shows talk about the next Great American Novel, but I’ve been waiting for the next Great Australian Novel. I’m a publisher by trade, always keeping an eye out for the next big thing that can get my publishing house up there with the best. Today I thought I’d found it, but as they often do, this one ended in disappointment.
The author I got so excited for had written a book about something I thought would be quite boring: getting auto electrical repairs in Toowoomba. But my goodness, the voice of the protagonist was so strong, their pacing was excellent, and their imagery was like nothing I’d ever read. There was only one problem: the ending was awful. I don’t know what the writer was thinking, but the protagonist decided to sell his car to the mechanic for a bottle of lemonade, which he proceeded to drop and slip onto, falling through a crack in time and appearing in 1920s America. And that was the end of the book! I couldn’t believe it. Obviously, the author is setting up for a potential sequel, but even though that is a terrible idea, they refuse to change it.
I just can’t get it out of my head. We didn’t even find out what was wrong with the car. Why was our hero at the mechanic? For a car air conditioning service? We’ll never know! I don’t understand. Is there something wrong with me? Was the ending supposed to be subversive, like that movie, The Last Shed-Guy? Knowing my track record, though, this book will probably go on to make millions. I’ve passed up seven bestsellers already. It seems I don’t have the best taste. Maybe the market wants a book about Australian regional cities and car repair that ends with a cliffhanger in a completely different genre. If they do, good for them, but I’ll pass.
– Janet McCallom