Emily Forland of Brandt and Hochmann Recommends...

I have a new pastime: Squidball. Invented during quarantine, it’s a game of indoor catch with my son’s rubber squid. Sometimes a squid works better than what you thought you wanted. Who needs a ball?

When I first moved to New York, I took figure drawing at the Art Students League. I struggled, but at times I’d make a leap of progress between classes, as if part of me was working at it while I bounced around the other parts of life. Maybe in quarantine we’re all doing that, whatever we do. 

Agnès Varda’s film Cleo from 5 to 7 follows young Cleo as she wanders the streets of Paris killing time before receiving results to confirm a grave diagnosis. She stops to try on a hat, her mortality underscores the picture. I think of Stanley Kunitz’s exhortation, “End on an image and don’t explain it.”

I’m drawn to work that does two things at once, but stealthily; writing that doesn’t flinch from difficulty but is more humane for having a light touch. I tell authors that I’m okay with darkness in stories but: Please give me a flashlight. Often that beacon takes the form of a narrator with enough good humor to get us through.  

Hands out! Here come the flying tentacles.

Emily Forland of Brandt & Hochmann Literary Agents, Inc.