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Viewing Blog: Publishing Insider, Most Recent at Top
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A Publishing Insider's blog about books, music, movies, the big picture, and "absurd rants". About me: My background: Worked in bookstores in the 70's, worked at Random House thru the mid-90's and then helped launch the Book Sense program for independent bookstores. I am now with HarperCollins, working on various aspects of marketing with some very talented people on every kind of book imaginable. I will mention books from all sorts of publishing houses and also plug some movies and music, as well as some of my favorite small art museums. My main desires here are to learn more about this thing called word of mouth, about books in the larger society, and, most specifically, to promote the experience of getting out to hear authors and musicians and actors do their thing live.
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1. Seeds posting and cool photos up at Huffinton Post this AM!

Check out Rick, SEEDS on Huff Po this AM.

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2. Rick and Charley!

Richard Horan's been on a wonderful tour of New England for SEEDS, and was even on PRI's Living on Earth and also On Point with arborist Brian Sayers!!  And Charley and I did a fun Q&A at BN in the Bronx, and he did one with MLB historian John Thorn at the Kingston store. Charley's been posting a few original pieces at BullpenDiaires.com, with more to come.

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3. Who can name which publishers have pre-war NYC buildings with their company names on them?

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4. an ode to Earth Day from Richard Horan, author of Seeds

I spent much of my childhood playing in the trees.  And that is no insignificant matter because our childhood playgrounds, like the Universe itself, are the very goop from which our hearts and minds are created.  Freud wrote in The Interpretation of Dreams that “the deeper we go into the analysis of dreams, the more often are we put on the track of childish experiences which play the part of dream-sources in the latent dream-content.”  The trees, tree houses, and my father, were the dark forests, castles and giants of my youth.

My very first memory of my father, also the most touching and poignant, is watching him build me a tree house.  I couldn’t have been more than three years old.  His inner kid must have compelled him to build it because of the squarish grouping of four cherry trees that lay in wait behind our humble home.  Completed, it was a sweet little ticket booth in the trees, entrance fees waived in perpetuity. 

He always wore white, my dad, when he worked at carpentry.  I don’t know why.  I see him now in the midst of a sweltering Connecticut summer, his thin lips pursed with determination, the underarms of his faded-white T-shirt shadowed in sweat, his white painter’s pants all gummed up with sawdust and dried glue and splatters of creosote, contrasting wildly to his nappy black hair, while his skinny arms hammered and sawed, hammered and sawed. I can visualize the tree house, too, like a one-eyed little domi-smile, proudly gleaming under the dappled summer rays: two-by-four-by-six-inch incline ladder, wide vertical-length pine siding, paneled front door with a thumb-latch doorknob, two glassless windows—one in the front and one in the back—and a pitched roof.  But the most powerful memory of all, is the ubiquitous smell of creosote.  She exuded its essence forever more.  He really loved that creosote, my dad.

A few years after my own tree house had been built, and, alas all aspects of its endless possibilities had been fully exploited, I discovered another tree house in the neighborhood.  But this was no ordinary tree house.  This was of psycho-mythic proportions.  I found it high up among the scaly branches of a gigantic silver maple, in the midst of a dark wood in an out-of-the-way corner of my little suburban sphere.  I almost couldn’t see it for the trees.  Painted dark blue, it was an odd rhombus shape, with two distinct levels.  The problem was, I couldn’t get inside her.  There were no windows, and the only point of entry was a small trapdoor, but it was padlocked. 

Then one day, while passing by, lo and behold, the trapdoor lay agape.  My heart raced.  I don’t know how they normally entered the place because there were no two-by-four slabs nailed to the tree trunk, no rope ladder handy, just the thick bole itself misshapen by a an odd assortment of knots and burls, enough for a kid my size to get a few precious toe-holds on.  My eight-year-old agility proved equal to the task, and just like that I was up and in.

Crawling around in the gloaming, I found a veritable treasure trove of wonderalia.  There were sleeping bags piled high on all bunks, with pillows and blankets and empty soda bottles and cans and books strewn about, with international flags on the walls, and board games galore stuffed under the bunks. I stayed inside that tree house for hours, weltering in the ecstatic joy of childhood fantasy.

 When I grew up, I did not build a tree house for my two daughters because I am not handy like my dad was.  He will always have that advantage over me, which is as it should be—fathers and sons both benefit from one another’s advantages.  And even though now I do not climb and sleep and build ticket booths in the trees, I continue to walk and imagine among them. 

With the national Arbor and Earth Days both coming at the end of April this year, we need to be mindful, and look up. Because in and among the trees, we are all of us childre

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5. wine in time

This spiral wine cellar made me weep with envy.

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6. you and me...and LP's on the roof

I feel faint. From Readymade.com...a vinyl record roof!!!!!!!

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7. a forgotten philosopher of words

Raymond Moody told me yesterday about JL Austin, a British philosopher who changed the way sentences were thought to work. Fastcinating. I've ordered his books from Powell's.

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8. you tell me

I’ve been debating a few things in my head while on the treadmill. Cooler city: Austin or Denver? Cooler phase of a musician’s life: Billy Preston during or after the Beatles? More symbolic tree: oak or maple? And don’t even get me started on cover songs. Ok, I will. Tomorrow.

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9. other publisher pick

Kudos to Unbridled Books and the rave Janet Maslin NYT review for The Coffins of Little Hope!


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10. it's a book!

Just rec'd finished copies of Bullpen Diaries, due out April 29. I am so happy!!! Check out Charley's Yankee updates and quotes of the week.

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11. Rick Bragg's magic touch

I worked with Rick on his first book, and even visited his mom's house. Such a good guy. Have fallen out of touch, but saw him listed on the Alabama Book Festival schedule and dropped him an email. Great to be back in touch -- and don't miss his short but very, very sweet and touching piece about his aunt and the roses of Fairhope in Southern Living.

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12. Mark Twain

When I got to St. Louis, I immediately bought a copy of Life on the Mississippi. The river is amazing and I was drawn to it, especially on trips out of town. The flood gates in Cape Girardeau creeped me out a bit, and looking over the river from Hannibal was inspiring. Hannibal was also the stop of an author whose book I edited, and it's coming out April 19: SEEDS, by Richard Horan. He goes on to look for the trees that inspired the likes of Faulkner and Kerouac, Welty and Wharton. It's a wonderful, trippy, funny and poignant book. Check out Rick's quote of the week and book excerpts!

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13. one of the best museums anywhere

The St. Louis Art Museum is a gem in and of itself, but the setting in Forest Park is magical. When you get to St. Louis, get to the bookstores . . . and then to the museum. It's free and full of paintings you have never seen.

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14. one of America's coolest cities

Gonna be writing up all things St. Louis for a bit; you'll see why. First up, a fantastic music venue: the Old Rock House.

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15. naps

I don't see eye-to-eye with Ben Stein about much of anything, but I agree with him about the power of naps. As he said about naps letting us relax and work out our worries, quoting Shakespeare: "Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care . . ."

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16. a sublime view of things in this nuclear age

My favorite new quote -- in fact, it's my Blacberry screen image: "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." - Muriel Rukeyser. I found it on a bronze sidewalk plaque on Library Walk in NYC. Here is a Flickr archive of all the plaques. Thank you, Reid Cooper!!!

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17. guilty pleasures

Ok ok, don't hate me, but i love Classics IV! That guitar strum on Spooky still gets me and I love the horns, and Traces of Love is schmaltzy but still a heartbraking song. 

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18. other publisher pick

Booksellers are buzzing about Say Her Name, by Franciso Goldman, from Grove.

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19. the Yankees future?

Charley Rosen is posting a 3 part look at what NY fans may have missed during the off-season with all the other news, and what is the surprise key to the 2011 Yankees season. Check out this and more at Bullpen Diaries.

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20. Announcing bookseller and librarian essay collection

Well, announcing that i need more essays! The Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest Readers are out; i'd like the Southeast and New England to be next, but i'll consider any quirky, interesting and personal essay about the state you live in now, or grew up in, or lived in.  1500-2500 words; open to my editing. You must be working in a bookstore or library now. No money in this; just glory and fame. AND, I'm considering a national edition of i can't get enough essays for each state for reg'l editions. Let me know if you're interested. The printing of these books is totally subsidized by Delphinium Books, and the books carry a list of indie stores and addresses in the back.

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21. Other Publisher Pick of the Week

Indies are buzzing abuot Akashic's Wingshooters, by Nina Revoyr.  Hey, follow me on ze twitter.

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22. quote of the week

“I don’t know. I never see him. I room with a suitcase.” – Ping Bodie, Babe Ruth’s roommate

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23. uniform #'s

Only Ichiro is allowed to use just his first name on the back of his uniform.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are the only teams that do not have players’ names displayed on the backs of their home uniforms.  The Yanks also don’t have them on road uniforms.  (As a corollary, the sales of scorecards in Fenway Park are especially brisk.)

Every team in MLB, however, is required to have numbers on players’ jerseys.  This practice dates back to the mid-1920s, and was begun by the Yankees.  At the time, the placement of a hitter in the batting order determined his number.  So the leadoff batter was 1, the second-place batter was 2, and so on.

That’s why Ruth wore 3 and 4 was Gehrig’s.

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24. oh those Brits!

I usually don't take the time to play video links sent to me, but my daughter showed me these from BBC and they are HYSTERICAL!

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25. off to press!

My 'baby', Bullpen Diaries by Charley Rosen, goes to the printer today. I'm like a proud, nervous papa.

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