Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And in closing...

The blog is more than tragically neglected; it is past. What's future, we know not. I'm in a Miltonic mood, and had thought to leave you, gentle reader, with the blind poet's last elegiac lines from "Lycidas."
And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the Western bay;
At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blew:
To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new.
But possibly that's a little too on the nose, as they say in Hollywood. 
So here are some other lines from Milton, lines that I first typed out and pinned to my bulletin board when I was a fresh young editorial director at Henry Holt in 1990-something, and now no longer need to pin up because now there's the internet, and because I have them by heart. 

For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. 
Books may have shape-shifted since Johnny Milton's time, but oh may those dragon's teeth spring up for ever! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meanwhile, across the Pond

I'm watching a live stream of James Murdoch being questioned by members of Parliament in London, even as I write. (Thank you, Guardian newspaper.) I continue to be fascinated by this scandal, for reasons too numerous to examine in this post. But here's what struck me this morning:

12.54pm: Louise Mensch apologises that she has to leave immediately after her questions to collect her children which she says are the same ages as Murdoch's.

Could you imagine for one second that a member of the US Congress would say he/she had to leave a hearing to pick up his/her children? Even one as glamorous as Louise Mensch? I await the day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why I (still) love the Con

I stopped in at New York Comic-Con tonight on my way home from drinks at the Old Town. Granted, I didn't start attending Comic-Con when it was a few folding tables with old comic books in downtown San Diego. But I have been going for a while. I almost skipped this year, but here's why I still love the Con. Eleven reasons, because prime numbers are cool (at the Con).

1. The Popular Kids can't make it to the Con.
2. People read at the Con.
3. Folks are humble at the Con.
4. They give you the benefit of the doubt at the Con.
5. Good ideas come from the Con.
6. Nobody tries to stop you at the Con.
7. There's a lack of irony at the Con.
8. All body types are celebrated at the Con.
9. The graphics are great at the Con.
10. People share at the Con.
11. There's a lot of hope at the Con.

See you in San Diego.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To do list for this past Columbus Day

Write till noon
Dye eyelashes
Bike downtown
Come up with good book idea
Occupy Wall Street
Kayak in Hudson
Catch Martin Scorsese's Hugo as a work-in-progress

All done!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Sometimes I go to the Hungarian Pastry Shop to write. It’s where I’m writing now. I’ve been coming here since I first arrived in New York and lived at the Deanery on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (long story) right across the street.

Yesterday I was here working on a picture book text, which I had owed to my gifted and clear-eyed editor, Lee Wade, for some time. I am proud to say I finished a first draft. Now Lee will tear it apart, at least I hope she will.

I was a little distracted – but not too much – by a fortyish, shaven-headed man at the next table who was pitching a business idea to a younger friend? intern? B-schoolmate? It was only when the pitcher described the business as “a reservoir of stories that you can go to any time” that of course my ears pricked up. Like the pitchee, I didn’t really cotton to what this business was. People wrote stories, posted them, and then other people could buy them as a plot for their own work? At least that’s what I think it was. Who would do such a thing I can’t imagine. (It would put Hollywood out of business.) But he was convinced, if not convincing.

It made me think of the Gold Rush and the last last frontier we had: the Wild West. I’ve been thinking about the Wild West because I’m the lucky co-agent of Caroline Lawrence’s Western Mysteries, the first book of which, The Case of the Deadly Desperados, is coming out in Spring of next year. If you think of the series as Deadwood meets Mark Twain by way of Richard Peck, you’ll have the right idea. It’s funny, original, unsparing, and it has the most original hero you’re going to meet anywhere in books next year. I love it.

For a while we thought that space was the next (and final) frontier. But virtual space is our own Gold Rush, and its power and allure are as palpable as they were in 1849, even if the coffee and beans have been changed to espressos and ischlers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poetry Friday: The wisdom of Kentucky trees

Here's a poem I received as part of an everyday email today from the wondrous George Ella Lyon:

We're having a cold spell in Kentucky.
The trees keep saying April! April!
and the wind says Fool! Fool!

But we know the trees are right.