Status: Literary Hoax
The Weekend Australian recently announced the results of a literary experiment
. They took chapter three of celebrated Australian writer Patrick White's novel The Eye of the Storm
, changed its title to The Eye of the Cyclone
, changed the names of the characters in it, and changed the name of the author to Wraith Picket (an anagram of Patrick White). Then they submitted this to twelve Australian publishers. Ten of them rejected it, and two never responded. One reviewer wrote that "the sample chapter, while reply (sic) with energy and feeling, does not give evidence that the work is yet of a publishable quality."
This particular brand of literary hoax has been done countless times before, and always, it seems, with the same result. Most recently the Sunday Times submitted chapters of a VS Naipaul novel
to British publishers, who summarily rejected it. The perpetrators of the hoax always claim it reveals the weak literary standards of the publishing industry. Meanwhile the publishing industry just shrugs off the hoaxes and continues on trying to figure out how to make money. My theory is that journalists love to repeat this experiment because most of them are wannabe novelists and like to imagine that their lack of literary success is due to the short-sightedness of the publishing industry, not their own lack of talent. (Though I should note that I like to complain about the publishing industry as much as anyone.)
I think that the Weekend Australian should have submitted the chapter to horror publishers, because Wraith Picket would make a great name for a horror writer.