Meet Melissa Flashman

 

Melissa Flashman is a literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit, where she represents award-winning and best-selling authors of fiction and nonfiction. Some recent titles by her authors include “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler; “The Selfishness of Others” by Kristin Dombek; “The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century” ed. by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara; and “O Fallen Angel” and “Book of Mutter” by Kate Zambreno.
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ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

If I don't go to yoga or barre in the morning, I usually skim The New York Times on my phone for a half hour or so in bed (haven't managed to exile the phone from the bedroom yet) and then get dressed and maybe try to read a bit of a manuscript. If weather permits, I walk the mile or so through Fort Greene Park to the subway listening to podcasts.  I've been listening to Slate's Double X, and the culture and political gabfests for over ten years. I also love Why Oh Why, Pod Save America, Invisibilia, Call Your Girlfriend, Planet Money and Still Processing. I usually grab some sort of egg sandwich or oatmeal on the way into the office near Bryant Park. I need a lot of breakfast.

ON One of her favorite books

Take Care of Yourself by Sophie Calle was my birthday present to myself a couple years ago. Her work, which has gained more recognition in the States in recent years, is playfully intellectual and not scared to make the personal or the social art. The book famously grew out of a project to subject a break up letter she received to intense scrutiny and interpretation by dozens of professionals including a lawyer and a clairvoyant.  It’s a great book to dip in and out of, regardless of your feelings about literary romantic exegesis.

On her favorite part of her daily routine

I'd be lying if I didn't say it was drinks with whoever is in the office for late afternoon/early evening meetings. We have a wraparound stone terrace that overlooks half of midtown and when the weather is nice we sit outside, preferably with a glass of wine and talk books. It's basically my fantasy of grown up life come true and the sunsets are not to be missed.

On her Favorite Beauty Products

I like Amarte’s Aqua Veil and sunscreen and Kevin Murphy Powder Puff (hair volumizer) and the Weleda Skin Food everyone else loves (there is a reason, plus the packaging is my favorite shade of pea green).

 

In NYC we think of buildings being pre-war and post-war, but my co-op complex is an actual war building, commissioned by the U.S. Navy to house workers and officers at their nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard during WW2. They were designed by the same architect who designed the UN and the Time Life Building and have a functional, mid-century feel with great layouts and big windows. But my place still looks, well underwhelming would be putting it mildly, but I’m finally getting around to thinking about how to make it look like a real home, instead of a way station between an office and a bookstore. This summer will witness a modest renovation to open up the space and let the light in. I’m sure my plant army will appreciate it at the very least.
— on her apartment
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On Getting Her Start As a Literary Agent

After college I spent a couple years in a motley assortment of gigs and jobs: general manager of a hip hop/R&B station in central Kentucky where I grew up, a year in an English PhD program at Johns Hopkins, cool hunter in NYC at the agency Malcolm Gladwell wrote about, advertising copywriter at a dot com company satirized in The New Yorker piece My Fake Job. Once the dot com bubble burst,  I thought maybe I would try my hand at journalism or work in fashion, so I started freelance writing and also interned at Nylon. One week I applied for two jobs in media: one as a junior editor at a glossy magazine and the other to be an assistant at a literary agency. I talked to a couple people in book publishing about the role of agents, and I knew I had found my calling. I was an assistant for two talented agents before I started representing my own writers. Book publishing is a field that runs on a lot of institutional knowledge so being an apprentice for a few years is essential training and I learned from some great mentors.

On her favorite places to shop

I love No. 6 for shoes, Totokaelo (more shoes), Rachel Comey (shoes again), COS and Everlane for basics (I live in Everlane white silk blouses), Clare V for bags, wallets. I grew up scouring thrift stores and dollar a pound outlets and still love to hunt for the odd find Century 21. Their new store in downtown Brooklyn has big dressing rooms and no lines.

On her nightly routine

I’m out a lot after work so I don’t have a ton of fire when I finally make it back to my doorstep. Basically I make a drink (lately it's an aperitif called Red made by Fourthave) and cook dinner with my boyfriend. He’s the much better cook, so basically I’m the sous chef, which is how God intended things.

 

Top, Isola Marras ; Pants, Theory ; Shoes, Rachel Comey

Top, Isola Marras ; Pants, Theory ; Shoes, Rachel Comey

The Sonic Youth 7” is for a song called ‘Providence’ which is basically a recording of the musician Mike Watt from The Minutemen leaving Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth an epic voice mail on an old answering machine while they were all on tour together in the ‘80s mixed with a piano solo Moore recorded on his Walkman and apparently an amp overheating. It is basically the sound of my youth. I probably first heard it in the early ‘90s and there is something haunting and goofy and incredibly 3 am about it. In college I was lucky enough to take a class with experimental composer Alvin Lucier whose work “I Am Sitting In a Room” is in part a piece about the acoustical properties of, well, the room he records the piece in. Exposure to Lucier’s work made me notice other acoustical timestamps so to speak, and I don’t know, there is nothing like ‘Providence’ to transport me back to being a teenager, piled into some car looking for a field party or secret show in an abandoned strip mall.
— on one of her favorite records
Coat, COS ; Pants, M. Patmos ; Sweatshirt, Everlane ; Shoes, Rachel Comey ; Bag, Clare V.

Coat, COS ; Pants, M. Patmos ; Sweatshirt, Everlane ; Shoes, Rachel Comey ; Bag, Clare V.

Mel's FAVORITE BOOKS

Seduction and Betrayal by Elizabeth Hardwick

Let's Talk About Love by Carl Wilson

The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships by Robert B. Silvers

Sophie Calle: Take Care of Yourself 

Mel's FAVORITE RECORD

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Songs of Leonard Cohen

Providence by Sonic Youth

Hope by Palace Songs

Mel's FAVORITE MOVIES

An Unmarried Woman, A Separation, Amour, The Women

Mel's FAVORITE PLACES

I love eating at the bar or getting a drink at Bar Bolinas

The rose garden on nearby Pratt's campus is a peaceful reading spot to lollygag away a Sunday afternoon

The quiet Myrtle Ave side of Fort Greene Park is vastly underrated

The fried bodega chicken at Yafa Deli is one of the  best in the city and definitely the cheapest.

Tasting menu dinner at Locanda

 

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