Now listen, if you write and publish books, or really put out any kind of creative product, sooner or later you will get a bad review.
The bad review will break your heart. Because, if you’re writing books, or doing anything artistic really, the whole effort is to try and connect to another human. Try to express yourself in a way another person will recognize or respond to. To try and say hey, this is what I was feeling, this is my interest, this is compelling to me, I’m trying to do or explore this or I’m living this and feeling this and I want to express and share it with you, maybe it will mean something to you too, or at least entertain you and give you some fun or interesting information.
When you get a bad review, the only reaction you can have is to say: bummer! sorry you weren’t into it. I tried my best, guess we didn’t reach each other in the way I hoped, then shrug, move on and press on. Maybe you’ll get ’em next time, maybe not, on we go.
Flip side: you’ll also get good reviews With any luck you will reach somebody.
Any wise person will tell you to have an attitude something like the one the Duke of Wellington was said to have had.
Supposebly the Duke of Wellington wouldn’t let his men cheer for him because that would give them the feeling they could also boo him when the felt like it. Wellington was famous for his cool attitudes:
One of the last cannon shots fired on 18 June 1815 hit Lord Uxbridge’s right leg, necessitating its amputation above the knee. According to anecdote, which is probably apocryphal, he was close to the Duke of Wellington when his leg was hit, and exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!”, to which Wellington replied “By God, sir, so you have!”
Don’t pay too much attention to good reviews or bad reviews, might be the lesson. Like so many lessons: obviously right and very hard to follow.
The main character of my last book had some rough things to say about book reviewers. That was part of the joke. Me? I’ve always rooted for book reviewers. They have a tough job. Newspapers shrinking, etc. I am on the book reviewers side. This site is largely amateur book reviewing. It’s easy (and cheap) to write a bad review. Hard to write a good one.
Let me make things as easy as possible for anyone reviewing of my book.
If you’ve been assigned the job, or if you want to pitch it and take it on freelance (her0), let me help you with this handy reviewers’ kit to The Wonder Trail:
If you’re brave enough to volunteer? At your local publication? God bless. (Happy to answer your interview questions, write me.)
Print that helpful guide out. Download it. All those phrases are free to use.
Start each paragraph on one and you’ll be done in no time!
* this one from actual human reader Margot B. who I don’t know but who very kindly wrote in after winning a copy in the Great Debates Newsletter contest.
Thanks, and good luck!
Very happy with this purchase of David K. Lynch’s Field Guide To The San Andreas Fault.
Plus, fun style.
Didn’t know we barely nick the top ten ever in the US!
Reading up on author David K. Lynch I am delighted to learn:
Back in the 70’s, he was proclaimed “Frisbee Immortal” by the Wham-O company. Dave’s recreational activities include playing the fiddle in assorted southern California bands, camping, collecting rocks and rattlesnakes and reading the New Yorker.
You wish! Can’t wait to hit the road and start looking for scarps.
Will definitely check out Lynch’s Color and Light In Nature.
Lot of the feel of David Markson’s books, Boyland’s copies of which I read all in one fall in NYC.
This novel contains much information and true stories in it, which I always enjoy:
This was so interesting was that I looked into more about Komarov:
He successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on his 19th orbit, but the module’s drogue and main braking parachute failed to deploy correctly and the module crashed into the ground, killing Komarov. According to the 1998 bookStarman, by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony, as Komarov sped towards his death, U.S. listening posts in Turkey picked up transmissions of him crying in rage, “cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.”
As always, the more you read about the story the more interesting it gets. Did they really hear his screams?
Komorov is one of the people honored in the Fallen Astronaut memorial left on the moon by David Scott on the Apollo 15 mission.
If you’re looking for that it’s over on the Hadley Rille:
According to NASA, the origin of lunar sinuous rilles remains controversial. The Hadley Rille is a 1.5 km wide and over 300 m deep sinuous rille. It is thought to be a giant conduit that carried lava from an eruptive vent far to the south. Topographic information obtained from the Apollo 15 photographs supports this possibility; however, many puzzles about the rille remain.
Bookstores are so pretty. Here is a bookstore I saw in Barcelona. I mean man.
Some of my all-time favorites are The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge:
Marfa Book Company in Marfa, TX:
Elliot Bay Books in Seattle:
(their Instagram is like 50% adorable dogs)
and Three Lives Books in NYC:
LA is a great bookstore town, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is Book Soup, right on the Sunset Strip:
The Last Bookstore is almost like a book theme park:
And the granddaddy in Pasadena, Vroman’s:
I will be coming to some bookstores to promote my new book, The Wonder Trail: True Stories From Los Angeles To The End Of The World, in June of this year. My book cover straight up looks good:
and will brighten any bookstore. Can’t take the credit for that, it goes to kickass cover designer Anna Laytham, who says:
I’ve done a fair bit of traveling myself in the last couple years, and as a designer find all the vibrant color and beautifully imperfect handtype to be one of my favorite parts of being in an unfamiliar place. I was happy to express some of that feeling on your cover!And hell yeah people judge books by their cover! I certainly do. Thats why I design them
Especially looking forward to a trip down to Laguna Beach Books:
If you work in a bookstore and want me to come visit, get at me!
firstname.lastname@example.org. If at all possible I would love to do it.
And thank you for your great service to our nation!
(photo credits: Helytimes / Harvard Book Store / Marfa Book Co. Facebook / Elliot Bay insta / Google Street View / Google Street View / Skylight Twitter / Helytimes / Iliad Twitter / Helytimes / Rachel Orminston Caffoe for Vroman’s found here)
The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez isn’t just the oldest library in Africa. Founded in 859, it’s the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries.
so I learn from this interesting thing linked by Tyler Cowen.
The al-Qarawiyyin Library was created by a woman, challenging commonly held assumptions about the contribution of women in Muslim civilization. The al-Qarawiyyin, which includes a mosque, library, and university, was founded by Fatima El-Fihriya, the daughter of a rich immigrant from al-Qayrawan (Tunisia today). Well educated and devout, she vowed to spend her entire inheritance on building a mosque and knowledge center for her community.
Among the library hounds was Ibn Khaldun who wrote Muqaddim, The Introduction, which is full of interesting ideas:
Topics dealt with in this work include politics, urban life, economics, and knowledge. The work is based around Ibn Khaldun’s central concept of ‘‘aṣabiyyah, which has been translated as “social cohesion“, “group solidarity”, or “tribalism“. This social cohesion arises spontaneously in tribes and other small kinship groups; it can be intensified and enlarged by a religious ideology. Ibn Khaldun’s analysis looks at how this cohesion carries groups to power but contains within itself the seeds – psychological, sociological, economic, political – of the group’s downfall, to be replaced by a new group, dynasty or empire bound by a stronger (or at least younger and more vigorous) cohesion.
Perhaps the most frequently cited observation drawn from Ibn Khaldūn’s work is the notion that when a society becomes a great civilization (and, presumably, the dominant culture in its region), its high point is followed by a period of decay. This means that the next cohesive group that conquers the diminished civilization is, by comparison, a group of barbarians. Once the barbarians solidify their control over the conquered society, however, they become attracted to its more refined aspects, such as literacy and arts, and either assimilate into or appropriate such cultural practices. Then, eventually, the former barbarians will be conquered by a new set of barbarians, who will repeat the process. Some contemporary readers of Khaldun have read this as an early business cycle theory, though set in the historical circumstances of the mature Islamic empire.
If you are on Instagram in LA you have seen probably six hundred pictures of The Broad art museum downtown.
How did Broad get so rich? “Moving money around,” was my guess. Part right: he started a homebuilding company, KB Home, and then when that was up and going he started another company, SunAmerica, for retirement savings / mutual funds. Learning this from the man’s book:
which also gives a final answer on how to pronounce the name:
To summarize: everybody has to say it weird because he didn’t like getting teased as a boy.
(photos of the Broad yanked right off LA Curbed)
You can pre-order it here on Amazon, and on 6/14/16 your postman or woman will deliver this nice present to you.
Or start gently nudging your friendly indie bookseller to order a pile!
It is 102 short chapters about everything interesting I could find, learn about, or experience between Los Angeles and Patagonia. Topics include:
- rocks & ice
- the Aztecs
- the Amazon
- Mexico and how Mexico City was the Western Hemisphere’s first metropolis,
- Inca math rope
- the history of travel writing
- how scholars, eccentrics, archaeologists and gum entrepreneurs figured out how to learned to read ancient Mayan
- the crazy violent nightmare adventure of Bernal Diaz
- and hallucinogenic plants.
I hope you enjoy it!
How about that rad cover designed by Anna Laytham?