Okay, kids, sorry about that. After spending Saturday and half of Sunday cleaning away the 8-10 inches of detritus (clothes, books, manuscripts, kitchenware, empty bottles of Canada Dry™ tonic water) that had accumulated on every available surface in the apartment during the last burst of composition, I have had time to open the Device Manager and fuck around with network settings I know nothing about (half? full? duplex?) until I found something that made the little ICQ flower go green.
The test is behind me. I keep realizing things I probably missed, like the Chekhov question that I flubbed because I forgot that Tolstoy wasn't the only Russian with a heroine named Anna, or my inability to remember which brilliant but questionable post-structuralist wrote Desire in Language or which Romantic wrote about "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," but I suspect it will turn out all right in the end. It's a stupid hoop, I jumped through it, give me my Ding Dong.
The book still needs some triage, but it's complete enough for overtures to have gone into the mail, viz.:
New York, NY 100[XX]
12 April 2003
Dear Mr./Ms. [X],
Enclosed is a synopsis and first chapter for Song of Roland, a literary novel that I began writing while a student at the Iowa Writers Workshop. In May 2002 I received my MFA and, on the strength of an early draft of this book, a Glenn Schaeffer postgraduate fellowship, which has allowed me to write full-time this year. The manuscript is now complete and I am seeking representation. Your name was recommended to me by several friends from Iowa, including [A] and [B], as well as [C].
Roland Vandenberg, the protagonist, is a student cancer researcher in Tucson whose family suffers from a rare, genetically linked form of eye cancer. His sister died of it as a child, and his mother is now dying as well, a thousand miles away at the family home in Seattle. Rolands research concerns an herb used in Chinese medicine that might be developed into a cancer cure, but his results are far from conclusive. Much of the novel tracks his ambivalence toward his laboratory work and toward his mother, a celebrated composer whose domineering personality had much to do with his choice of career. Matters are further complicated when he meets Anna Greco, a waitress at a local coffee shop whose father is dying of leukemia and who convinces Roland to pose as her fiancé. Eventually, after a fire forces Roland to leave his laboratory, he and Anna return to Seattle for a final confrontation with his mother before her death.
I have some experience with laboratory work in molecular biology, and that specialized knowledge plays a substantial role in the story, though its presentation is not so arcane as to cause the general reader any difficulty. My familiarity with the theory of music composition and with the landscape of Tucson, where I grew up, have served as secondary resources.
I have included an envelope for reply; return of the enclosed chapter is not necessary. I will be happy to send a complete manuscript if this novel strikes you as something you might wish to represent. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.