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On January 25th, if you're in New York City, you could do worse than to listen to a handful of New York Magazine editors discuss non-fiction storytelling. The event is being held in conjunction with Longreads and Housing Works Bookstore Café.
"Where readers used to see, perhaps, a paragraph thanking the writer’s editor and agent, a few key researchers, and maybe a family member or two, now we are confronted with a chapter-long laundry list of name after name. [Sheryl] Sandberg’s seven-and-a-half page section, for instance, thanks more than 140 people for contributing to her 172 page book." --The New Republic I have so many people to thank for this book, starting with my agent, Judy Bookstein, who sold the project, Judy's assistant, Eleanor, who first read the proposal, Eleanor's boyfriend, Pete, who quietly let her read without interruption, Pete's psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffords, who prescribed him the medication that allowed him to more patiently indulge Eleanor in her off-hours proposal reading, the entire faculty and staff of The New York University School of Medicine, where Dr. Jeffords received his training, and former New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who put the tax breaks in place that allowed NYU to first open its medical school. Thanks also to my parents, their parents, their parents' parents, their grandparents, and everyone in my family tree back to Adam, Eve, and the lower primates, especially Lucy. They may not ever get to read this book -- and, if we go back far enough, may not even understand what a book is, or what to do with it -- but clearly I would not be here without them, and so this book would not exist. In that spirit, I must thank Jonas Salk, Joseph Lister, and all of the doctors and researchers who created cures and treatments to some of mankind's most deadly afflictions, for without them, there is certainly a risk that I would have never been born. Thanks as well to the municipal workers of Marlboro, New Jersey, since I am told that if not for the blackout of November 1974, I would likely not have been conceived. Huge thanks to my aunt and uncle, Sylvia and Oscar Moskowitz, for telling me that story of my conception, and how that cold, dark night brought my parents together for the first time in years. The rich details with which you described what happened that evening fueled so much of the writing that appears in these pages. My love of writing began in kindergarten, and so I would be remiss not to thank Mrs. Rosemary Porter and everyone at Chester Arthur Elementary School, from Principal Tucker to Esmeralda from the lunchroom, not to mention all of my classmates -- Michael, Gregory, Jason C., Jason F., Jason M., Michelle, Jennifer, Kimberly R., Kimberly T., and our exchange student, Lu. Wherever all of you are, I hope you know that you have not been forgotten and your efforts to include me in your spirited games of kickball were not in vain. I know I was not always willing to share my crackers, but it was not because you did not deserve them. No, in fact it was entirely the opposite. You deserved them too much. You deserve everything, and all of the accolades this book receives belong to you. Except for Andrew R., who was and probably still is a bully. And no, Andrew, I'm not just saying that because your literary agency turned down the manuscript. Some Facebook friend you turned out to be. A book may have only one name on the cover, but in reality it is written by millions of people -- or at least this book was, particularly the sections I borrowed from volumes throughout the Rock Creek Public Library system. Thanks for Donna at the circulation desk for turning the other way when I pilfered copies of some of the most in-demand titles, and to Henry at the security desk for failing to search my bag. You will never know how important you were to this project, unless one day you pick this book off the shelf and happen to see. In such a circumstance, thanks to the kind folks at LensCrafters, or wherever it is that both of you buy the glasses that allow you to clearly read printed text like this. Thanks also to Mr. Otis, for inventing the elevator that brought me to the top floor of the library and allowed me to retrieve those volumes. I hate the stairs. These acknowledgments would not be complete without mentioning my friend and fellow writer Sanford McDonald. Your years of struggle have inspired me to keep going, and this book is in some small part yours, although not to the extent that your name should appear anywhere but here, in the fifth paragraph of the acknowledgments. Thank you as well to all of my friends who volunteered to read drafts, even the ones who never expected to be taken up on that offer. Your critical feedback, at valuable moments during the process, helped to shape, refine, streamline, and possibly even destroy the text, since many of you, if I'm being honest, did not actually know what you were talking about. Nevertheless, I thank you, because it is the polite thing to do. Drugs played a huge role in the completion of this book, none moreso than amphetamines, which I received from Tyler at the local YMCA. Thanks to Tyler, and to the defense attorney whom I fully expect will get him cleared of most if not all of the charges against him. Tyler also contributed immensely to the text itself, serving as my first and last reader, and suggesting innumerable improvements as well as very detailed plans to overthrow the government. Thanks also to Rue at the front desk of the Y for talking me off the roof when things seemed hopeless, and to Rue's mother, for what I imagine was a very painful birth. Big-boned, that's the polite thing to say these days, right, Rue? Good luck with the online dating. Thank you to my golden retriever, Dixie, for listening to countless drafts of the manuscript read aloud, and offering valued counsel and suggestions. Thank you to Yolanda, my imaginary friend, and, most recently, my imaginary lover. Thanks to my dentist, Dr. Ruben, for extracting just the right tooth to give me the strength to finish this final draft. And, finally, thanks to you, the reader, for allowing me to share these 892 pages of love with you, even though I know most of the sentences are entirely incoherent, and there is hardly a plot to speak of. You have made such a difference in my life, and I hope I have touched yours as well, both figuratively and literally. To be included by name in the acknowledgments of future editions of this book, just e-mail me a copy of your receipt. And thanks once again to my agent, Judy Bookstein. Now and forever, Judy. Now and forever. Image Credit: Flickr/woodleywonderworks
Our intrepid AWP #LitBeat correspondent attended an offsite event called "Books Have Ruined Our Lives, Now We Want to Ruin Yours"