Whew, I made it. One full week of my guest mutterings and the Powell's Blog is still intact. (I did, however, notice an abundance of database problems ? for which I profess all innocence.) So, how'd I do? Fair to middling, I suspect. As of this morning I've netted eleven comments, a puny yield when ranked against the astonishingly popular Carole Radziwill
, who pulled in 63. I did outpost Warren St. John
, however, who seems to have managed only two entries before vanishing from the site entirely. But my total output pales in comparison to Adam Gopnik's
, he of the 5,267 words of erudite blogghorea. Those New Yorker
writers, so verbose! I'll be sending Adam a complimentary subscription to my favorite little magazine, Paragraph
, which is composed entirely of one-paragraph-long stories.
As for my personal goals for the week, let's review:
- Tastefully shill my new book. Check.
- Share my meager knowledge about book publishing. Check.
- Blogroll for some friends. Check.
- Throw some love my dog's way. Check.
- Thank my readers. Damn, I knew I was forgetting something.
Now, when I say "readers," I'm not necessarily talking about you. Although, for a mere $19.25, I will happily include you in this important group. Shall I wait a moment, while you fill your Powell's shopping cart and complete your transaction? (Hurry up ? this is a short post.)
Okay, I will now spend my final moments on this site lionizing you, and your book-loving brethren. As every freshman author learns ? me included ? his book lives or dies solely on its ability to connect with persons who have no actual connection to the author. (My family can buy only so many copies of my book, after all.) Most of these buyers purchase the book simply because the story is interesting. To wit:
"Thank you for writing this book! I discovered it today and have already sent copies to my family."**
With works of history, however, you also get buyers who have more direct connections to the material. And thus:
"Dear Mr. Tayman,
"My father William Schmidt has just finished reading your book The Colony and enjoyed it very much, especially as his great-grandfather William Walsh was the brother of the Donald Walsh (in your book) who worked with the lepers."**
And then there are the readers for whom the book is more than a diversion, or a weekend's entertainment. It's a glimpse into, or a clarification of, their own history:
"Dear Mr. Tayman,
"Thank you for writing the book. It is of extreme interest to me because my aunt, Sister Mary Teresa, from New York, worked at the colony for about 30 years. In my meeting with her, which was only twice, and when I was very young, she told me only about the goodness of the people that lived there. She was a nurse and worked mostly with the girls in the girl's orphanage. I had no idea of what the place was even about. Her name was Katherine, Aunt Kitty to her family. Thank you so very much."**
To which I can only respond ? and this goes out to the authors of those letters, to you readers, to my friends and family, and to the patient staff at Powell's ? No, Thank You.
I'll see you again when the next book is finished.
** Actual reader letter.