In-Depth Editorial Report
‘ The Indistinguishableness of Indistinguishability’ is a very unusual book in many ways, not least of which, is the title. The plot is complex, involving a dense weaving of themes of betrayal, sexual confusion and guano. The structure of the book is split into historical and contemporary time periods. The section of the novel which deals with the !870’s Patagonian Guano Scam was interesting historically, if perhaps a little bewildering. This is a part of history which, oddly, has passed me by and I found myself wondering about the feasibility , although I appreciate the symbolism, of an opera house being built out of guano, despite the four chapter digression into the history, chemical composition and significance to world history of accumulated bird waste. The eventual destruction of the opera house by the hysterical Welsh choir was exciting, but I question the accessibility of a scene written exclusively in the Welsh/ Patagonian argot.
The romance between the Russian ballerina, Svetlana aka ‘La Cucaracha’ and the chief guano smuggler ‘Branson’, although touching, sometimes invited incredulity, especially when they were caste adrift on the ice flow by the syphilitic choreographer. Would she really have been able to dance the ‘Dying Swan’ in a beaver fur coat and snowshoes? Could Branson really have flung himself into the jaws of a walrus when she revealed her trans-sexual nature?
As the action returns to the contemporary and, may I say, amusingly bleak, lives of the elderly volunteers in a Chipping Sodbury charity shop, I feel that we are on safer ground. However, the discovery of the very self-same beaver fur coat belonging to La Cucaracha in a bag of old tracksuits, does seem to stretch co-incidence to its very farthest reaches. The plot device of their love story being scrimshawed onto a whale’s rib and sewn into the beaver coat, only to be discovered by some old biddy, who turns out to be the grand-daughter of the love-child conceived on an ice floe by the unfortunate ballerina and her guano smuggler, was, I ‘m afraid, both contrived and predictable. The ensuing conflagration that burns down the charity shop and the volunteers following the automatic combustion of the fur coat, with or without your additional explanation of the ‘inflammatory desires and passions that had soaked into the coat’ was, in novelist’s terms, playing with magic realist fire and coming away with third degree burns.
Marketability and Conclusion
Does it have to be guano? By this I mean that the introduction of a grand historical theme such as the Great Guano War of 1872, although a colourful backdrop, does have the effect of suffocating the rather thin love story. (I could positively smell the ammonia). Branson and La Cucaracha could make rather a compelling and successful subject for women’s commercial fiction, stripped of the Patagonian Welsh choir and if Branson could have some other career; a travelling saleman perhaps? Although I applaud the historical sweep of your ambition, perhaps it would be wiser to narrow down your vision. The contemporary section of the novel in the charity shop could, with much work, be developed into …something.
I am afraid as the novel stands, I cannot recommend it to any agents. Without much re-writing and the excising of certain digressions, such as the chapters containing the syphilitic choreographer’s monograph on the rendering of penguins for lamp oil, I cannot, in any conscience, recommend that you continue to work on this project in its present form.
If however you would like to join our course on writing successful Romantic Fiction, we can offer you a special customer’s discount.
Thank you for allowing us to read your book
Fabia Glossy-Smarte & Hilly (unpaid intern)