And one of them is mine. I just found out about this post from last March, which lists the From Square One book jacket along with 85 others that are also quite beautiful.
Archive for the ‘from square one’ Category
I went to the Strand in search of Alec Wilder’s classic text American Popular Song. It wasn’t there. This has happened my last several trips to the store, which boasts eight miles of books. Eight miles of books, and still their collection is missing essential titles? It made me wonder if they were culling the herd in response to cataclysm within the literary ecosystem.
In its place I found I book I didn’t know I wanted. But now that I have bought it, I cherish it much more than the source of my original hunt. It’s Alec Wilder & His Friends, from 1974, and it’s a collection of New Yorker profiles by Whitney Balliett, who died three years ago.
These are portraits of—this is a term that has been applied to me more than once—old souls who “hold a common vision of life that has lately fallen low. They are highly moral people who have guarded their souls, who have, no matter how bad the going, refused to compromise. They have gone without jobs when fashion has turned against them, rather than demean themselves in shoddy ones. They have kept their spirits intact despite neglect, near-privation, and even semi-oblivion. These sterling people, in taking the high road, have bent their energies toward the endless polishing of their arts, and pre-eminence, no matter how tardy or circumscribed, has been their reward.”
A few—Tony Bennett, Blossom Dearie, Marian McPartland—were able to hang on long enough to enjoy an Indian summer of their careers. At the other end of the spectrum you have the much less known jazz pianist Marie Marcus. All of the subjects make for companionable reading.
I borrowed Balliett’s style for one section of my book From Square One. He sets up a scene and then lets his subject talk, often for pages at a time. The illusion is that there has been no mediation by an author. Of course just the opposite is true. Balliett has erased his questions and left the answers-as-monologue. The style seems old-fashioned today, and that no doubt has something to do with why I employed it.
So says amazon.com. You know what this means?
If your last-minute scramble to buy Christmas presents has been thwarted by the snow, then online shopping is the way to go.
This picture was taken in June when I (once again desperately in need of a comb) read at RJ Julia Independent Booksellers in Madison, CT, from my new book FROM SQUARE ONE: A MEDITATION, WITH DIGRESSIONS, FROM CROSSWORDS.
You can order from Amazon by clicking here.
And if you click on the link you’ll see this review from gerryb of Cambridge, MA (another stranger, I promise): “I loved the amazing information so fluidly presented- a fascinating history of crosswords and the gossip, recollections and stories of puzzlers both famous and unknown. I loved finding out that Meg Wolitzer, author of one of my favorite novels (‘The Wife’) is a serious crossword person.”
One last thing: remember how valuable it is if you recommend this book to others who are also having a hard time thinking of the perfect gift.
We humans get accustomed to new realities so quickly, it can be frightening sometimes.
I was thinking about this during the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Here was this thing that had defined our lives for decades after World War Two. I spent my junior year in France convinced I’d be incinerated by a nuclear bomb. And then, suddenly, the defining reality was gone literally overnight.
And within a couple of days we already became accustomed to our new life we were living utterly devoid of fear.
Every once in a while I am reminded of what a sea change has taken place in the very, very recent past. Here is the interview I did on Thursday, December 3, with Ellen Rocco and Chris Robinson, for the program Readers & Writers on North Country Public Radio. An interview that was conducted live on local radio – in other words, at a specific time in a specific place.
I’m looking forward to being back on the air again at North Country Public Radio. The Next Big Thing enjoyed a happy home on this sweet little (big, actually!) network of stations in upstate New York. I’ll be interviewed about FROM SQUARE ONE on the book show Readers & Writers Thursday, December 3, from 7 to 8pm. NCPR’s live stream can be heard from anywhere on Earth by clicking here.
Of course now I can’t get this out of my head:
Yes, according to an email from PayPal.
If you are starting to shop for holiday gifts, I hope you’ll keep in mind my new book, FROM SQUARE ONE: A MEDITATION, WITH DIGRESSIONS, ON CROSSWORDS.
It’s an obvious gift for crossword lovers, but it was written to interest a general audience.
If you plan to buy it or have done so already, thank you. Even better would be if you recommended it to others who might be shopping for gifts.
Barbra Tarkenton of Simsbury, Connecticut (a stranger, I promise) gave it five out of five stars and wrote the following review on Amazon:
“I loved this book. What’s wonderful about it is the way it seamlessly blends autobiographical details with a solid, well-reported appreciation of crossword puzzles. Yes, you learn about how avid British crossword puzzlers were recruited to help solve the Enigma code during WWII, and yes, you learn what the editors of crossword puzzles think makes a good puzzle (‘fresh fill’), but what really lasts in the reader’s mind are the scenes between the author and his father. (And also the story of a couple wherein the husband wakes up early to do the puzzle, and then erases all his answers so his wife can do it.) This book is literary in the best sense of the word.”
To buy the book from Amazon, you can click here.
Barnes & Noble has a special CyberMonday deal going. To buy from B&N;, you can click here.
And don’t forget Powell’s, the wonderful independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, which sells online here.
Thank you. And remember: it would mean so much if you suggested the book to your friends who are buying gifts, too.
But really. If Dan Brown can’t turn things around, who can?
I will still be at Wordstock in Portland, Oregon, this Saturday at 1pm. But I will be on a different stage: Wieden + Kennedy. It’s a place where I can make more noise. (Me, making a big noise? Go figure.) Anyway, I do hope that if you have friends in Portland that you’ll steer them toward the show.
Thank you and good night.