MANCHESTER, N.H., Feb. 25, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The newest member of the advisory board to Southern New Hampshire University's low-residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction program can't afford to miss any subway stops—not with all the tasks that await him at the offices of Folio Literary Management on New York's Ninth Avenue. Yet that's exactly what Jeff Kleinman hopes will happen when a new manuscript comes his way.
"I basically have two criteria for taking on a book of any type," he told a roomful of Southern New Hampshire writing students last summer, when he was on campus as a guest. "First, I miss my subway stop reading the book. And second, I gush about it to any poor slob who will listen."
This can happen with all sorts of different books, as befits someone so curious about so many different things that he majored in modern studies at the University of Virginia, and then began work on a doctorate in Italian Renaissance studies at the University of Chicago, before earning a law degree at Case Western Reserve University Law School.
"The law degree was actually a safety net," he explained. He found himself being forced to specialize as he climbed up the ladder in academia, and the law degree, at least, was eminently practical. But then he learned that as a literary agent he could make a living simply by being curious.
"I'm not at all a linear thinker," Kleinman said. "And I will say that the law degree trained me to think in that manner, to approach things more sequentially—which has helped with both the administrative and creative sides of what I do. It's critical, when assembling either a novel or a nonfiction project, that the story unfolds step-by-step, without too many leaps that could potentially lose a reader."
In 1999 he joined the Washington, D.C.-based Graybill & English Literary Agency, and in 2006 became one of the founding partners of Folio, which carved a niche for itself by offering services that more traditional agencies did not.
"We have affiliations with speakers's bureaus, marketing bureaus, and particular strengths in negotiating digital rights," Kleinman said. "Now almost everybody is doing all that, but those were new services at the time."
Folio continues to prosper on the value of those services, however, and also on its roster of authors and track record with the publishing houses. Among Kleinman's most notable coups are Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain," Charles Shields's "Mockingbird," Eowyn Ivey's "The Snow Child," Elizabeth Letts's "The Eighty Dollar Champion," and many more.
"I love it when a story changes me," Kleinman said, "when it allows me to enter the thoughts and situations of others and, when I exit the pages, leaves me feeling changed—maybe a little more grateful, or a little kinder, or a little wiser."
"There is research coming out now about how good narratives, fiction or nonfiction, help to make their readers more empathetic," said Richard Adams Carey, assistant director of Southern New Hampshire University's MFA program. "Jeff was on to that years ago, and to have on our advisory board an industry insider of Jeff's sensitivity and professional stature is a wonderful boon to the whole program."
Kleinman's own interest lies in all the ingredients of the Southern New Hampshire program—its students, faculty, and board. "I'm strongly drawn to writing communities," he said, "and I hope that I can offer this program a perspective and the sort of advice they might not get elsewhere."
Manchester, New Hampshire, is far outside Kleinman's usual subway circuit, but it will be another place for him to gush about the stories that have changed him, and to be gushed at in turn. Upon such shared devotions communities take shape, and grow wiser.
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CONTACT: Richard Adams Carey firstname.lastname@example.org 603-716-4278Source:Southern New Hampshire UniversityMFA and Creative Writing