Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New Homestead

One thinks of the word "homestead" primarily in the context of Laura Ingalls Wilder, so I was surprised at my closing yesterday to be given a document entitled "Declaration of Homestead." Along with a mere $35 to the Commonwealth, I have established that I own it and am possessed by it. I am sure most new homeowners will agree about the "possessed by" part!When I drove over for the first time as a homeowner, I will admit it was a bit intimidating. The house was dark; I don't know where the light switches are; and I wondered if a killer lurked within. I hoped the neighbors wouldn't call the police on me but figured burglars probably remove items, rather than bring them at 10 pm, and it is a very safe neighborhood. I left the headlights on so I would have light as I fumbled with the key. There were no killers inside (have I been reading too many thrillers?), only one intimidating centipede in the kitchen sink which I drowned. Don't tell my favorite professor, Gary Francione!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meeting Joan Aiken

In December of 1998, the Greater NY Betsy-Tacy Society (or representatives thereof) went to Books of Wonder where Joan Aiken (seated, center) signed books and chatted with fans. It was such a thrill to meet her, and as you can see, she graciously posed for a picture with the group. I think she was pleased to hear I was also a fan of sister, Jane Aiken Hodge.* I am so glad not only that I met Joan just a few years before she died but she encouraged me to write to Jane (more on that another day).

In this photo, left to right, front row: Laurie, JA, Elizabeth; left to right, back row: I am blanking on the woman on the left, then I, Linda, and Ilene. Joan signed several books for me including the only hardcover I had with me, below:

It took persistence but Books of Wonder has supported Betsy-Tacy, albeit never with the quantities I suggested (and, of course, I was their Scholastic/Penguin rep, not their Harper rep).
By the way, I am distressed that Houghton Mifflin does not appear to be reprinting Joan's books as needed. I had great difficulty obtaining a copy of The Cuckoo Tree, which I do not own, for my niece's birthday. Boo!

* I will never understand how a poet like Conrad Aiken could have had so little imagination as to name his daughters, Jane and Joan!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Universal Truths

I found this while I was packing. Apologies to the cartoonist: I must have cut off the signature.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

B&N at Lincoln Center

Having spent many years working with Barnes & Noble, several of my closest friends are people who were or are employed there and my years in NYC are inextricably connected to it and them. Even if I didn't love books and worry about their future, I would be concerned about the tumult going on in the industry and at B&N in particular. But I wasn't prepared for the acute pang of distress I felt several days ago when I heard the Lincoln Center store will close in January.
It is a store I have spent a lot of time in, and where I have met many authors, including Philip Pullman. I was there the night it opened on Oct. 20, 1995 (with Karen Patterson, and I think our friend Helen), and I remember I saw one of my worst enemies coming up the escalator and hoped she wouldn't ruin my night (she left quickly, too cheap to buy anything). I found a faced out quantity of some classic book on tractors published by Motorbooks, and complained indignantly that whatever car book I had at that time was woefully underrepresented. That was when I learned that tractors are very popular in New York! I never figured that one out - could they all have been gag gifts?
It makes me very sad. Am I the only person up late and worrying about books?