March 24, was The Millions’ second birthday. In the year since my last “happy birthday” post, blogs have become firmly mainstream. It’s become difficult to find a person who asks the once common question, “What’s a blog?” The book blog world has become amazingly robust in the last year, meriting frequent mentions in the mainstream media and providing a real alternative to newspaper book coverage that manages, at best, to reach some of the readers some of the time. Based on the many emails I get, book blogs have become a venue of conversation (and a potential outlet for promotion) for authors and publishers. For those who bemoan the stagnation of the literary world – and all of the book bloggers seem to do it from time to time – we are in the midst of a shift, if not yet a revolution, in national (and international) literary discussion, which has migrated from book club meetings and bookstore aisles out into the open. I am regularly delighted when a Millions reader, and book lover, leaves a comment or sends me an email, thus entering the conversation. I also love the loose give and take among the several dozen book blogs and the way themes will propagate across the blog landscape one after another until there is a dense web of conversation floating among us in the ether. The best thing about this is it appears to be just the beginning. I have ten times as many regular visitors as I did at this time a year ago, and new book blogs appear almost weekly it seems, adding further depth to the discourse. When I started, I just figured it might be fun to write about books as a way to make use of all the time I spent surrounded by them at the bookstore. Everything that’s happened beyond that has been gravy. Thanks for two great years, Millions readers (and contributors)!
Stop by the stately Mercantile Library at 7 p.m., where the literary magazine [sic] will be hosting a party. I’ll be reading from, and signing copies of, A Field Guide to the North American Family, and the illustrious Diane Williams, editor of NOON and author of Excitability, among other titles, will be reading from her new book, It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature. The Merc is located at 17 E 47th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. I’d love to see you there.
I do this every summer don’t I? If you haven’t noticed, posting has become a bit sparse at The Millions, and I expect it to be more sparse as the summer wears on. We’re leaving Chicago soon, and we’ll be heading to temporary digs in Washington, DC, before finding a permanent place to live (the final destination is as yet undetermined though we’ve narrowed it down somewhat.) So, essentially, I’ll have a lot of stuff going on and so blogging will take a back seat. And anyway, it being summer, I’d guess that most folks will be enjoying themselves outdoors and on the road rather than in front of the computer. So, look for just a couple of posts a week give or take until the fall months roll around, and maybe by then I’ll be unveiling some changes at The Millions. Or perhaps it’ll stay the same.In the meantime, here’s a small cache of links for your purusal.An old link, but new to me. Slate commisions pulp covers for classic novels. (via BoingBoing)The Book Critics Circle blog decries litbloggers linking to Amazon. (My response is in the comments.) The Literary Saloon weighs in as well. (via Scott)Alan Cheuse presents his “summer reads” at NPR and shares some background on the selections at the Happy Booker.
I’d like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to invite our New York-based readers to come out this Friday, November 2, to celebrate the launch of my first book of fiction, A Field Guide to the North American Family. The release party will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the lovely and capacious Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe on Crosby Street in SoHo.I’ll be reading from the book for about half an hour and showing slides of the illustrations. During the remaining hour and a half, I’ll be signing books and Max and I will be hanging out and drinking free booze with you. We always enjoy meeting our readers, and I’d love to see any and all of you there. (I need all the support I can get!)
I know that last year I expressed profound ambivalence about attending BEA, but in the end I’ve decided to go this year for a few reasons: It’s in NYC, giving me the opportunity to see the numerous family and friends I have there; I’ll get to meet up with some of the many cool people I met last year; Millions contributors Garth and Noah, NYC natives, will be along for the ride.So, with that out of the way, let me tell you where we’ll be. The Millions and many other litbloggers and literary luminaries will be at Kettle of Fish on 59 Christopher St. Thursday (tomorrow) from 8-11pm for the Litblog Co-op party. Come by and say hi.The rest of our schedule, as best I can tell, is fairly wide open, but if there’s an event we should know about, email me to let us know.
…in the VQR Young Reviewers Contest. Our own Emily Colette Wilkinson was awarded the prize for her review of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. We’ll post a link if and when VQR puts the review online. Congrats Emily!