Stockbrokers and art gallery owners take off for half the summer. Maybe bloggers should too. Due to my impending wedding (T minus 4 days), and a busy schedule of traveling and moving (for the second time in three months), I will have to cut back on my blogging for the next month and a half or so, at least until we get settled in Chicago. In the meantime, expect approximately one post per week, and also a more relaxed attitude as befits the time of year. You should try it, too, and maybe we’ll run into each other among the gallery owners and stockbrokers in the Hamptons, on the Vineyard, or in the South of France.
I’ll be reading from A Field Guide to the North American Family this Saturday, as part of New York’s 20th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair. The Indie Author Read-a-Thon runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and I’ll probably only be reading a couple of short chapters from the book; I can’t recommend that anyone schlep to 44th Street just to see me. That said, I had a blast at this book fair last year, trolling the beautiful wares of such publishers as Akashic Books, New York Review Classics, and Gingko Press. You know… the kind of books that don’t lend themselves to the Kindle. I emerged $40 poorer, but with half of my Christmas shopping done. My favorite find? An anthology of scam emails from Africa. So: Come for the books… stay for the reading!
First, the answer to the question you want answered: When will you publish your second-half preview? The answer: tomorrow! By this time tomorrow, you will be diving into our unparalleled preview encompassing dozens of the most hotly anticipated titles coming in the next six months.
The preview is a big effort with many people spending many hours to make it happen. And that’s also true of The Millions as a whole.
The Millions has been around for more than 14 years and has never made a living for anyone, but it has thrived. For a while there, it seemed to thrive almost against all odds. Even as economic realities closed in on other online magazines, The Millions had stayed a couple of steps ahead.
Last fall, however, we saw that these realities might soon catch up with us, as we became concerned that The Millions was becoming increasingly reliant on fewer and fewer revenue streams. Like everyone else, we saw that we were at the mercy of the usual suspects: Amazon, Google, Facebook. One small change from any of these giants could send The Millions hurtling to oblivion.
So we decided that we had to try something new: to protect our future, we invited our readers to supports us. Many did, and we are deeply grateful, but we know that many more have not.
Since we wrote in November 2016, the revenue situation has become that much trickier, as changes to the programs we rely on have further eroded the revenue picture and we have scrambled to make up the shortfall. The more we can get our readers to contribute, the more stable our footing will be.
It’s a very quick and simple process and we have a number of tiers that should be manageable for any budget. The three main tiers are annual recurring donations. There is also a monthly option.
And please note that we have a Sponsor tier on our Support page that allows for contributions at a higher level. This tier is for corporations and institutions as well as for individuals in the books and publishing ecosystem who are thriving. We rely on their support especially.
It’s my pleasure to introduce to you a new contributor to The Millions. Emre is an old friend of mine and I’ve always enjoyed our literary discussions. Emre read a lot of books last year, and he put together a diary of his reading experience. My plan is to post a segment of it each week. I’ve decided to share the whole diary with you because I think it represents one way that we, as readers, can get more out of the time we devote to our obsession with the written word. The post above this one will be the first in the series, but before we get to that, here’s a little more about Emre:Emre Peker currently slaves away as a paralegal in New York. Emre likes the city, food, drinks, books, music and good people. After winning the lottery, Emre will purchase a private island, derive a way to declare independence, and establish his own kingdom. Until then, Emre hopes to keep sane by reading and writing.One more thing, Emre grew up in Turkey, but has lived in the US for the last six years or so. This explains why some of the books he read last year were in Turkish.
For nearly half a century, Elaine Kaufman ran a restaurant in New York City that was a haven and a clubhouse for writers of all hues — brand names, up-and-comers, wannabes, and unknowns, the gregarious and the lonely, the elegant and the scruffy, the prolific and the blocked. The one thing they shared, other than thirst, was the desire to get out of their own skulls and into an interesting conversation.
At Elaine’s, with remarkable regularity, they succeeded. They found not only fellow writers, but cops, actors, gangsters, comedians, tourists, celebrities, and colorful nobodies. A young New York Times reporter named Gay Talese started going there in 1964, when the place was in its infancy. Here’s how he described its allure in 1993, on the occasion of its 30th birthday: “Among other things, Elaine’s is a therapy center, a halfway house for husbands between wives, a late-night talk show without cameras and microphones or commercial interruptions, a place that caters to the nocturnal needs and nourishments of New Yorkers who, as evening approaches, are not sure with whom they wish to dine, or with whom they wish to sleep after they dine, or even if they wish to sleep.”
The glue that held it all together was Elaine herself, an outsize personality with a sharp tongue and a sharper wit, who was usually installed opposite the bar at Table 4, dressed in her trademark round eyeglasses and flowing dresses. She was a magnet, a matchmaker, a traffic cop, a den mother, and, yes, an unlicensed head shrinker.
She died on Dec. 3, 2010 at age 81, and less than six months later the restaurant, starved of the oxygen of her personality, closed. By then it had become apparent that there would never be another Elaine’s — or another Elaine.
“What we liked and enjoyed about the place for more than 40 years was that it’s not replaceable,” Talese told me recently. “In New York you feel everything’s replaceable. The reason Elaine’s is irreplaceable is that when Elaine died there was no one who could make you feel that there’s no place else you’d rather be. An empty place has existed in our hearts since the place closed.”
Several Elaine’s regulars, part of the diaspora of the dismayed and bereft, started discussing ways to repay Elaine for all the encouragement she gave to writers and other creative people. They decided to form The Table 4 Writers Foundation, which has just announced that it is giving out its first batch of $2,000 grants to writers who live in New York City.
“The grants are for all New York writers, not just young and struggling writers,” says Jenine Lepera Izzi, a jewelry designer who met her husband at Elaine’s, became a close friend of the proprietor, and is now chairwoman of the foundation. “My core belief is that I’d love to wave a wand and bring the Jack Kerouacs back. That creative energy was what New York was built on — until the 1980s and ’90s, before rents and costs got so high — and it’s pretty much been squashed.”
I was introduced to Elaine’s — and to Elaine — by Peter Khoury. He and I wrote for the same North Carolina newspaper in the 1990s before moving, separately, to New York. Khoury, now the night metro editor at The Times, became a regular at Elaine’s and, eventually, a close friend of Elaine. One night, as he and I walked into the restaurant together, Khoury received a hearty ovation from the crowd– because the Times‘s metro desk had just broken the story that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer had a taste for high-dollar prostitutes. It was the only time in my life I’ve heard people applaud a journalist. No wonder Khoury — and so many other writers — liked going to Elaine’s.
“We’re trying to get the word about the grants out at places where writers congregate — writers’ rooms, libraries, bookstores,” says Khoury, who sits on the Table 4 Writers Foundation board of directors and has published several short stories in literary journals. “Elaine was a force of nature, a large, large personality. She instinctively knew if you needed a hug, a Heineken, or a kick in the heinie. We can’t replace her, but through the grants we can give New York writers a little recognition, a little leg up. It’s a way to celebrate and remember her.”
The foundation plans to award five $2,000 grants to New York writers, age 21 and up, at a gala in February of 2013. Entries, fiction or non-fiction, must be post-marked by Oct. 15, 2012.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
[Max: This is the introduction to a new monthly feature written by Corey Vilhauer who blogs at Black Marks on Wood Pulp]For the most part, I’m a young reader.I’m not well versed with years of thoughtful reading. I’m only 27, and in that time I’ve only read so many books in between finishing school, staring a career, and watching too much television.Now I’m struggling to catch up. Luckily for you, I’m broadcasting this struggle to the masses.Each month on my blog I recap everything I’ve read – a “What I’ve Been Reading” column. There’s a lot to be said about the paths a mind takes when selecting a new book, and part of what I do is try to make those connections. Why would I bother reading a George Orwell essay right after finishing Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island? It could be that I was obsessed at the time with English culture and wanted to continue riding the wave. Or it could be that Bryson mentioned a certain Orwell passage while recounting his three month jaunt around England.Or, it could be as simple as “I bought it and wanted to start it immediately.”Well, I can’t bring all of that to The Millions. What I can bring, however, is my favorite book of the month. Call it the Vilhauer Book of the Month club. Some months it’s going to be a classic, like John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Others are going to be more obscure – think Jonathan Safran Foer’s The Unabridged Pocketbook of Lightning (a 70th anniversary Pocket Penguin released only in the U.K. and Canada).Regardless, I’ll bring it to you. You’ll get the background as to why I’m reading it. You’ll get the story itself. You’ll get why I like it. You’ll get what it led me to read next.All in all, you’ll get every stinking second I’ve spent on the book – from selection to completion – and you’ll have no one to thank but Max for allowing me to spout off on this site. Thank him later, if you wish.Corey Vilhauer
You may have noticed that I spent the long weekend (which for me is one day longer thanks to the national day of mourning for President Ford) updating the look of the site. I hope it’s easy on the eyes. However, if you can’t find something you’re looking for, or if I’ve inadvertently broken something, please let me know.In addition to the superficial changes, I’ve also adjusted the site to allow for our contributors – there will soon be six of them – to post directly to the blog, which, I’m hoping, will up the level of discourse even further. So, all in all, 2007 should be a good year for The Millions. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year.