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Time may change me, etc etc
One of my favorite books is Nicholson Baker’s U and I, which centers on his fascination with John Updike. It’s an unusual book on many levels. For one thing, Baker quickly cops to the fact that he has not read everything by Updike and has not even read the “expected” books. He also chooses to write from memory and then correct his errant facts with footnotes. He imagines playing golf with Updike, making a long drive, impressing Updike.
In the spirit of U and I, this month’s newsletter is written from memory and I’m not even going to bother to fact-check it. I HAVE A LOT GOING ON PEOPLE.
For one thing, my sort-of-only kid (I feel extremely close to my stepson, but he has two living parents, so I cannot claim him nor take any credit for the fact that he’s pretty great) was called to the Torah the first weekend of June. I segued into atheism about a decade ago, an issue covered in my essay “The 31st Stocking,” but I adore our inclusive shul, Beth Am. Among atheists, there is some resentment about the phrase “There are no atheists in foxholes” because it suggests we renounce our beliefs when the end is near. Speaking only for myself, I would love to discover I’m wrong when death comes for me, but my non-belief is as considered and thoughtful as most people’s beliefs. Anyway, here, in the present, I am simply glad that my daughter’s synagogue makes me feel welcome and comforted when I attend. And now that I’m the mother of a teenager, I’ll probably be saying some prayers here and there.
WHERE’S MY BABY? WHAT HAPPENED? I’M GOING TO NEED TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER!
Another change about which I have complicated feelings: Carrie Feron has decided to leave William Morrow, where she is currently a Senior Vice President. She has been my editor for my entire publishing career. I have worked with other editors, of course, for short stories and editions in other countries, but Carrie has been the constant. Lord knows, I haven’t found that kind of consistency in my personal life.
Carrie and I first spoke in October 1995, when my first novel was on submission at multiple publishers. Of the three editors who made offers, only Carrie asked to speak to me. She wanted to know if I had a second book planned for what was obviously a series; I was happy to be able to tell her that I had basically finished the second book. (My search for an agent had taken almost a year.)
Because I came from newspapers, I had already had many, many, many editors, more than 20, easily. Temperamentally, I was a like a kid who had moved from foster home to foster home. I didn’t bond easily. I considered myself extremely low maintenance. In fact, I just told my new (terrific) editor this: “I consider myself extremely low maintenance.” I paused. “You should probably ask Carrie, though. For all I know she might have a different take.”
Good editors and good friends are as rare as spiders who save the lives of pigs. Carrie is both.
The Mystery Box takes in the view of Rash Field and the harbor. (Photo by Molli Simonsen)
The Mystery Box is back. It went away during the darkest days of the pandemic, when some people were sequestering their packages. But it has returned and, for the next few months, I can guarantee that there will be a copy of Prom Mom in every box. For those who don’t remember — everybody? — the Mystery Box is a collection of 12 titles, culled from my shelves because I simply do not have enough room to keep all the books I buy/galleys I receive. A nice backlog has built up over the past three years. If you want a chance to win this month’s box, send an email to LauraLippmanAuthor@gmail.com, preferably one that answers this question: Beach or mountains? (My answer: Cities.)
Reading/Read: Windfall, Wendy Corsi Staub; Yellowface, R.F. Kuang; Daughters-in-Law, Joanna Trollope; Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus.
Re-reading: The Popular Crowd and The Losing Game, Anne Emery.
Me, Me, Me: Prom Mom has been showing up on a lot of summer reading lists, including Time, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York Post, Crime Reads. I’ll post tour dates here next month.
Finally, I try to limit myself to weekly selfies; this one, captioned: “Who’s black and white and wants to be read all over?” was my favorite May outfit.