Monday, October 20, 2008

When Authors / Publishers Succeed

As I come down from a very nice if incredibly brief visit to nyc - 1 night - seeing my friend Damian Barr, a fantastic British writer and one-to-watch, I wanted something to keep my spirits up. I looked to my google reader and the blogs tracked therein.

This story by Sue Fox at the UK Times may not be entirely uplifting, as our heroine Doris Lessing is surely struggling with some typical ailments of aging, but I still appreciated the Nobel Prize winning author's point:

I give away mountains of books to Africa and Oxfam and anyone else who comes here. I get The New Yorker, which is always inviting readers to read more books. I buy armfuls from the local bookseller in West Hampstead. I phone up and somebody collects them for me.

It’s lovely to have money to give away — that’s the bonus of winning the Nobel. I support Oxfam, Shelter and Centrepoint. I’ve also got a fondness for a local cat-and-dog home and an organisation to help writers. I was much too proud to write begging letters when I was broke. Miraculously, two people I’d never met said they’d heard I was hard up and enclosed some money. They were communists and told me that when I had enough I should pass on the money to somebody else who needed it. I’ve been doing it ever since.

It's nice to see a writer who is financially comfortable, and because of that, is generous. I would expect nothing less from what I know of her, but it was still nice to read. (And thanks to BookNinja for the link.)

And publishing folks are all coming down themselves, from the Frankfurt Book Fair. It sounds like it's busy but not the best and brightest fair in recent memory - fair enough, given the current state of the global economy. This report from Motoko Rich at the NY Times follows Mizzi van der Pluijm, presumably because of her outstanding name. Well done! She is the Dutch publisher at Contact Publishers, and using her as a focal point is a nice way into reporting on the fair. But this paragraph stood out, not necessarily about the fair but about the love of publishing specifically:

Ms. van der Pluijm knew she wanted to become a publisher when she was 16 and read a biography of Nancy Cunard, the cruise-line heiress who first published Samuel Beckett. “To be paid for reading all interesting stuff, and meeting very interesting people,” Ms. van der Pluijm said, “that is a wonderful job.”

To uplift, I should also reference this story by Simon Romero at the NYTimes about Luis Soriano, a Columbian who brings scores of books to poor rural folk by way of donkey. It's already one of the most emailed articles today. Given my love of bookmobiles, I was of course drawn to the story of this man's "Biblioburro."

More original content soon. My brain is still in a cab heading downtown it seems...

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