Archive for October, 2013

It’s Spread to Europe!

October 27th, 2013

harp guyI am thrilled to announce that To Join the Lost now is available at Shakespeare and Company, the wonderful English-language bookstore in Paris.  Yes, that Paris.  They accepted a few copies on consignment when I was there last week.  It was a rainy afternoon.  I sat outside under the awning for about forty-five minutes afterwards, waiting for the drizzle to subside and basking in the thrill of having my book on those bookshelves.  There also was a pretty good view of a chunk of Notre Dame.

Shakespeare and Company is a place steeped in literary history.  Well, sort of.  A bookstore by that name opened in 1919 on the Left Bank.  Through the 1920s, expatriate American and British literati hung out there: Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein. Its owner, Sylvia Beach, published Joyce’s Ulysses.  The original store closed in 1940, during the German occupation.  It never reopened, but a second store was opened in 1951 (the year before I was born) by George Whitman and it bears the same name; its current owner, Sylvia Beach Whitman, was named for the original store’s founder, and she has worked hard to maintain the same spirit and commitment to writing and writers that made the first store legendary.

I didn’t really expect my book to find a place there, and I am thrilled that it did.  But now I find myself in a bit of a quandary.  It is there on consignment.  That means, if it doesn’t sell out in the next six months (unlikely as that may seem) I need to retrieve the copies.  I don’t think I will be able to go back there so soon, although I dearly would love to do so.  There are items on the menu of Au Bascou that I haven’t tried yet.  I need a contact in Paris who can handle that for me (the book, not the restaurant) next April, if necessary.  Volunteers?

One Man Show

October 9th, 2013

John_Boehner_111th_Congress_2009It seems to be insufficiently remarked upon that there is one person who is solely responsible for the shutdown. The Koch brothers, however despicable their machinations, are not members of the House of Representatives, although they do seem to own a chunk of it. The Tea Party, after all, is not a majority of the House of Representatives. It is a plurality of one party. That party happens to be the majority party, but the Tea Party does not represent all of its members. Legislation can be passed and business can continue without the Tea Party. What has stopped the process is not the Tea Party, but the Speaker of the House, who chooses not to allow a vote on a continuing resolution which could start the machinery of government moving again and for which by most accounts there is majority, bipartisan support. This whole thing belongs to John Boehner. How odd that one man should have such power, in a so-called democracy. How can it be that the Speaker of the House has the power to single-handedly bring the whole show to a screeching halt? Isn’t that even weirder than the Senate’s filibuster rule, that allows a minority of Senators to frustrate the majority? Here it’s not even a minority – it’s one guy, and he’s not just clogging up business in a single chamber of a bicameral legislature, he’s subverting the whole government! If there’s anything that screams for reform, and that my “freedom-loving” friends on the right really ought to be concerned about, it’s this. No one person in a democracy should have such power.