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 do not understand how a poet like Conrad Aiken could have had so little imagination as to name his daughters, Jane and Joan!  His son was John, which is practically the same name.

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?