This is just what the name implies: On Fridays, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.
Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.
Today isn’t just any 50 Words Friday. Because today, I get to introduce you to—or for the many of you who already know her, get you reacquainted with—Jessica Sinsheimer, my literary agent.
To say I was excited the day Jessica offered to represent me would be an understatement on par with “Kardashians like attention.” If you follow her on Twitter (@jsinsheim) or have read any of the interviews she’s given, you know why. (One of my favorites is this one that she did with my Twitter pal Summer Heacock, aka Fizzygrrl.)
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Jessica went east for Sarah Lawrence College and stayed for the opportunity to read soon-to-be books for a living. Now an associate agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s developed a reputation for fighting office members to see incoming manuscripts first—and for drinking far too much tea.
To wit: The first time we talked, she was working while she was supposed to be on vacation, calling me from a coffee shop whose slogan just happens to contain the word “enlightenment.” The allegorical connection to my intellectually stimulating work on, say, Seinfeld needs no explanation.
Always on the lookout for new writers, Jessica is most excited about finding literary, women’s, and middle grade, young adult, and new adult fiction, and—on the nonfiction side—psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works that speak to life in the 21st century.
My peers like Summer have already done a great job asking Jessica about her interests as an agent, so I wanted to do something different and pop culturey. I’ve learned that she is a tremendous fan of the erstwhile ABC show Pushing Daisies, which left the air five years ago. She has this in common with both my wife and my best friend from college.
When you pair that with her obvious impeccable taste—uhh, she picked me, remember?—I had to ask:
Pushing Daisies was cancelled in 2009. Why was this a crime against TV lovers everywhere?
[Jessica’s note: Ted asked me if I’d write about how I’d pitch Pushing Daisies. “It’s a show you love, not a show you sell,” I replied, sad at the idea of selling Ned and Charlotte. Of course, loving something makes it easier to pitch—but that’s another topic for another day.]
Sometimes fiction—just by showing, and in a vivid, compelling manner—can make a better argument than anything nonfiction tells us. Pushing Daisies came out when the news was telling us that hook-up culture was the new normal, that Hollywood would henceforth be safe and derivative, and that romance, if it did exist, would be Twilight-dark.
Yet Pushing Daisies is a love story about childhood sweethearts who can never touch. It has an Amélie-like, magical look—almost totally unknown in American TV. And it’s ultimately about the world being, though heartbreaking, beautiful enough to be worth it. It exemplifies emotional and aesthetic range, juxtaposes whimsy (a car that runs on dandelions) with violence (they blow up). Ned pets his childhood dog with a special scratching device, and makes a custom glove wall in his (gorgeous) vintage car so he can hold Charlotte’s hand while they drive; Lily and Vivian are cheese-loving, mermaid-styled synchronized swimmers—and Olive, hopelessly in unrequited love with Ned, bursts into song.
But, most of all, it speaks to the tender, pre-cynical part of you that used to think everything was possible. Charlotte dies on a cruise ship; my Hulu ads were for Carnival Cruise Lines. (Not to worry—Ned soon revives Charlotte, but she’ll die—forever this time—if they touch again.) Ted asks me to write this; I soon spot a window display that looks like the aforementioned flower power episode.
Of course Bryan Fuller, the show’s creator, can’t direct my life—but the show makes things like that seem possible again. We need wonder, and hope, and beauty to find that all-important inspiration. It brings out the best in us. And reminds us that—even in a cynical world—the extraordinary is still possible.
Wow. Just wow.
In case that didn’t convince you and you need something more to penetrate your cold, bitter heart, here’s the trailer:
Huge thanks to Jessica for stopping by this week and being my agent. It means (a) she really believes in me or (b) she lost a bet with my mom.
I’m fine with either.