This is mostly not on topic, but by coincidence, three old friends have recently published books—although the books are probably as different as they could be—and I thought I'd mention them in the spirit of getting the word out. Plain old plugs.
Jim Schley is a poet, teacher, and editor who lives "off the grid" in a solar house he and his wife Becky Bailey built on the back side of a ridge in Vermont, and he's recently published his first full-length book of poems, As When, In Season. The story of how Jim and I became friends is one I've told many times, but not many TOP readers have heard it so I'll tell it again. My family moved to Milwaukee when I was seven. My Dad had bought a house that wasn't finished yet, so we lived above the restaurant in a motel north of the city for a few months. The motel is now surrounded by other buildings, but in 1964 it was in the middle of nowhere; so, at the end of October, Jim told his mother that there was an unlucky boy in his class who was going to move into their neighborhood soon who had no place to trick-or-treat. That led to an invitation from Jim's mother Imy for me and my brothers to come trick-or-treat with them.
Later, my mother wanted to do something nice for the Schleys in return, so she invited their family to lunch at the local soda fountain, a classic old-time lunch counter in the local pharmacy. Come the big day, we were clearly supposed to be on our best behavior, with our mothers hovering over us being extremely nice to each other and closely monitoring our politeness. This created a certain tension—which provoked Jim's subversive streak. So, mid-meal, he took a mouth full of orange drink, pointed his straw at me, and fired. He and I both thought this was hilarious, our mothers were suitably mortified, and we've been fast friends ever since. The decades are adding up now.
Articles about Jim have appeared in The New York Times and NEWSWEEK, and Garrison Keillor has read Jim's poems on the Prairie Home Companion and included one in his popular compilation Good Poems. As When, In Season is a generous, complicated, lovely little book.
Cue theme music: the Beatles' "Paperback Writer." Dear old friend and Dartmouth roommate Ed Gaffney recently published his fourth legal thriller, a bonafide pulp fiction blockbuster called Enemy Combatant. He says that of his four books, this is by far his favorite. Now, I'm sure Ed has told me before that he was writing a book, but, heck, I'm writing a book—everybody "writes books." I didn't know he meant actual neat, nifty, published blocks of paper with shiny covers and blurbs and everything, for sale in stores! I'm impressed.
And here's the funny part—he's not even the writer in his family. I'm not quite sure of the official name of the genre Ed's wife Suze writes in—"romantic thriller" sounds about right—but she's written so many that Amazon maintains a dedicated Suzanne Brockmann store.
Oh, and speaking of blurbs, look who they're letting write blurbs these days:
Amadou Diallo's most recent book The 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in New York City is an interesting idea—a guidebook specifically for photographers. There's so much to see in New York, why not organize your sightseeing with photo ops in mind? Makes perfect sense to me. But then, it would.
While I'm at this, I can't resist a shout-out to my youthful, glamorous and small friend Hil—she knows who she is—who makes a handsome living in L.A. ghostwriting "autobiographies" for Hollywood megastars. I'd mention her name, but she's enjoined by contract to never whisper a word about her involvement in her books, and I don't want to risk getting her in trouble. I've known actual CIA agents who weren't so secretive!
Finally, it turns out that my next door neighbor here in Waukesha, Todd Sattersten, is as nuts about books as I am—but he loves books of a very different stripe. Just the other day, February 5th to be exact, he and co-writer Jack Covert brought out their book The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You. Todd's wife Amy Buckley, an amateur photographer who recently asked my help in putting together a knock-down photo studio in their house (I keep meaning to write a post about that) tells me that this is no flash-in-the-pan interest of Todd's—he's been eating, sleeping, and breathing business books for ten years (Jack for 25), has a huge collection of them, and really knows his way around the genre.
I've asked Todd if he'd write a short piece for TOP about business books that would be specifically useful to photographers, and he said he would. It might be a week or three, but you can look forward to that.