Jeff Rutherford talks about Sad Jingo by Ron Dionne
by Jeff Rutherford
SAD JINGO has a very long history with me, and I’m stunned that it’s finally published, and that I had a hand in publishing it.
In the mid-1990s after I moved to New York City, I ended up working in book publishing. First, I worked as a temp for 3 months at HarperCollins while an editorial assistant was having major surgery. I still remember reading manuscripts on the subway. The editor – Rick Horgan – had me read through some of his submissions as a first reader. After wading through a not-so-good mystery, he laughingly instructed me, “If it’s bad, you don’t have to read the whole manuscript.”
After my stint at HarperCollins, I ended up working for 3.5 years at the Denise Marcil Literary Agency, and I ended up agenting several authors and books. One of those books that I discovered and decided to agent was SAD JINGO. What’s SAD JINGO about?
Here’s the description:
SAD JINGO is a modern noir set in the New York City jazz scene of the 1990s.
Jingo Dalhousie — a frustrated piano player working as a janitor in his cousin’s Greenwich Village night club, a misfit, a man who is just not all there. The kind you can find on any NYC street corner. Jingo harbors impossible dreams of playing the piano like his idol, Thelonious Monk. When a blockbuster debut novel features a character with his own unusual name, Jingo believes it can’t be mere coincidence, and he decided to track down the author. If only he can meet her, and play for her, then maybe — just maybe — he’ll be able to finally free the music trapped inside his head. But unknown to Jingo, the author has a secret of her own that she is desperate to protect . . .
What is the human soul capable of when afflicted by ambition without talent? The haunting answer to that question echoes through the pages of SAD JINGO.
However, as much as I loved SAD JINGO, I just wasn’t successful selling the book. Dave Stern was working at Pocket Books at the time. He read SAD JINGO and enjoyed it. But it just wasn’t right for what he was publishing.
The most frustrating experience though was when Larry Ashmead, an acclaimed editor, read SAD JINGO and loved it. I still remember the two-page fax he sent on a Monday morning after he read SAD JINGO over the weekend. But, sadly, as acclaimed as Ashmead was, he couldn’t pull the trigger on buying the book for HarperCollins unless HarperCollins’ paperback division was equally enthused.
Unfortunately, they weren’t.
After I left book publishing for the PR biz, Ron Dionne the author of SAD JINGO, and I remained friends. He shelved SAD JINGO and worked on other novels and short stories. Some months, and probably some years, Ron stopped writing altogether.