Aan Zee is an unpublished novel, novella-sized (56,000 words), which I started some 30 years ago when I took a writing class with William Kennedy in Albany, New York. In the class I read a short story I’d written about a run-down hotel in Scheveningen in The Netherlands. Kennedy, after listening to it, encouraged me and told me to go on and flesh the story out into something novel-length.
Just as the last class finished, Kennedy walked in, smiling, waving a letter in his hand — his novel “Ironweed” had just been accepted, after he’d sent the MS around to 60 publishers.
I finished “Aan Zee” around 1994 when I was on a Sabbatical in Heidelberg, and sent the draft around to a number of publishers — though not as many as Kennedy had with his manuscript — but I had no takers. In one of the bout of desperation every writer is familiar with I sent it to a press in England which specialized in vanity-type publications, with a large share of the costs carried by the author. They sent me a glowing assessment of the literary merits of my text, purportedly by a professional editor, which praised the novel in such excessive tones that I decided to drop the idea, out of embarrassment.