Monday, June 16, 2008
Guess the Plot
The Syntax of Things
1. Zila sees words instead of hearing them, forcing her to understand the world as a pile of objects. Jon, a deaf-mute, is the only one who understands her. Can they find love while solving the murder of Dr. Startop?
2. Adair dumped Neil years ago in Paris. Now Neil has died and Adair flies home to attend his funeral. But when she runs into Alan they decide to skip the service and fly to Paris. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or just . . . The Syntax of Things?
3. The sequel to The Parameters of Crap and The Language of Stuff follows Rudolph Wilmont, linguist to the stars as he plunges into the Hollywood spotlight. A high-powered publicist calls Rudy in to strengthen Polly Warner's interview skills before her movie's promotional tour. Rudy has his hands full when he realizes his client is a beautiful dyslexic mute.
4. In the pyoneer colony on the world Neptyne, the Puritans have once agayn taken control. They have placed a punityve tax on all vyces, including the syn of mammon, or excessyve acquisityon of thyngs. One young boy fyghts to retain hys rock collection as hys fryghtened mother tryes to toss it away before they are hyt wyth a tax so hygh they could starve if they had to pay it.
5. David is 45 and autistic. One day while his helper Jenny watches him, she realizes he sees objects as words that need to be combined to be understood. Can Jenny help him learn to speak before he kills someone? Also, a blind Chinese girl.
6. When Paulo discovers a parasitic lobster attached to his spine, he visits grammarian Lloyd Pflatzberg, who assists in preparing Paulo for a visit to spine surgeon Ken Thesko, and the language barrier he's sure to encounter.
Adair Sullivan has done the impossible: she has escaped her past. At age 23, she has moved away, found a steady job, and is pursuing the normal, settled-down life she has yearned for since childhood. One afternoon, she comes home to find a letter waiting from Johnson City, her tiny Texas hometown. Neil O'Conor, her once-best friend, once-lover, the very reason she has been trying to escape, has died, and Adair is to come back for the funeral. [That makes it sound like she's been ordered to go back.] [I can't say I knew Neil that well, but based on the rumors, if all his ex-lovers have been ordered back for his funeral, they're going to need to hold it in a football stadium.] In a state of shock, she flies back to her hometown. Struggling with her own emotions as well as the painful circumstances that tore her from her old community, Adair reaches Johnson City, where she has no place to stay but with Neil's family: his parents, his sister Edie, and, two surprising, unwelcome additions: Neil's fiancée and son.
[Fiancée: Hi, I was Neil's fiancée, and this is our son.
Adair: You two are unwelcome here.]
Adair, feeling an abyss between herself and the others, goes to the funeral alone and wonders at the hypocrisy of the very unconventional Neil having a normal Baptist service. [Yes, where does he get off?] She sees an old friend, Alan, there and in homage to Neil they skip the service to revisit a landmark of their combined pasts. [The Motel 6 where they had a night of passion while Neil was visiting his dying Aunt Jo.] Their judgment distorted by grief, they decide to go to Paris, mirroring a trip they all took together years ago. They depart the next morning, after Adair visits Neil's room for the last time, collecting memories and discovering in his desk a sealed letter addressed to her. It is forgotten in her rush to leave before anyone catches her prying. [This makes it sound like she forgot to take it with her.]
When they arrive in Paris, Adair is glad to be back in the element of her youth. But along with the happy memories comes a deluge of painful ones and in a series of flashbacks and dreams she remembers, finally, the events that tore her and Neil apart. She is overcome with a sense of dread that, by leaving Neil as she did in Paris years ago, she left everything that was good in her life. Alan finds her sitting in a gutter alone and takes her back to their hotel room. [Paris is a pretty big place in which to just happen to run into the only person in the city you know. Was Alan searching all the gutters for Adair?] They talk; it is cathartic for both. Adair remembers the letter she took from Neil's room; she holds it reverently, nearly opens it, thinking it could somehow hold the answers she is looking for. But, in a final act of letting go, she throws the letter into the fire, and as she does, [she recalls that he never paid back that fifty thousand dollars he owed her. Uh oh. As the flames leap higher she realizes that now it's gonna be a real long time before] she begins to heal.
In the first sentence Adair has escaped her past. In the last sentence she finally begins to heal. I would think escaping her past implies that she had at least begun to heal.
I'm no expert on the protocol when informing a person of the death of someone whose funeral she might wish to attend, but when the someone is far enough away that she would need to book a flight, sending a letter instead of phoning seems unnecessarily time consuming.
Also, is Adair aware of the existence of the fiancée and son? If so, it shouldn't be so unexpected that they're with Neil's parents. If not, I'm surprised the person who wrote to inform her Neil died didn't inform her he had a kid and was engaged.
If Johnson City is her hometown, how is it Paris returns her to the element of her youth? How old was she in her youth?
Although your title doesn't matter, since they'll change it, it wouldn't hurt to come up with one that has at least an infinitesimal chance of being used. You don't want them rejecting the book without reading the query just because they fear it's as boring as the title.