I’m posting my book events in reverse-chronological order. I kicked off July with a visit to DIESEL in Brentwood. This reading was so gratifying for a number of reasons. My ultra-supportive mom came with wine, cheese and crackers and fruit, and was even super gracious when kids in the store ate all the fresh figs and didn’t buy my book. Friends from the two high schools I attended in LA turned out for the event. College friends from Santa Cruz and NY friends and cousins who had moved to LA were there to celebrate. My husband Bill and our two sons came with me from NY and made the whole experience feel like home. Also, I wasn’t nervous. Apparently, I’m only nervous once, when I’m a book launch virgin and after that I just know how to have fun.
The fun was doubled by having a post-reading conversation with the irresistible and witty Julia Fierro. We talked and spiraled around our psychologies, why we write, what I hope this book means and also publicly observed that the fig tree is getting too much shade but is full of small birds nonetheless.
Last Friday I had the privilege of having a reading and book signing in the gorgeous Eagle House Hotel, Phatsy Kline Lounge. The event was so warm, with a group of lovely friends and book lovers, who actually stepped out of the rare July sunshine to listen to scenes from PRACTICE DYING and drink some Friends With Benefits Humboldt Cider (so good!)
And the best part was doing this all in the company of my sister, Dana. She was such a fun and intelligent Q&A facilitator, even throwing in a big-sister curve-ball to keep me on my toes.
Authors, put Eureka CA on your book tours!
You won’t regret it.
A few weeks ago I met my friend Jena at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with both our one-year-olds. Before leaving the house I texted her, “I’m putting on some make-up in case you take my new author photo!”
Jena is a photographer and she took my last author photo for The Sign for Drowning.
I love how natural and relaxed the best pictures turned out. When truth-be-told, we were doling out snacks and milk bottles and babbling to two restless babies during the whole shoot.
These outtakes capture the mood perfectly.
My new novel, PRACTICE DYING, will be out in 8 short days!
Obtaining blurbs for your upcoming book can be an excruciating part of publishing. It’s up to the author to find the leads, have the contacts and make the requests. It’s a big favor to ask- the author whose recommendation you want, has to read the novel for starts. And then craft something useful and enticing to say about your book in a few short sentences. You write to authors you know, or have met once, or (yikes) have never met at all, and you ask really nicely. A few months ago, I went through this hard process, starting by choosing authors who’s work had some overlap with mine, traveled some similar territory, who it made sense to be associated with. Well, I have to admit, Leland is the least of these criteria. His work is darkly comedic- very comedic and satirical. But I kept coming back to him. His work has huge range, tells ridiculous, striving and poignant tales. He writes human beings- who you can see- sometimes naked- often tortured- very flawed. The more I thought about his work, the more I wondered if he’d blurb my book. I exchange work with Leland regularly in a monthly writing group we’re both in. And I also know him to be open, supportive and to the point.
From a writing retreat in a castle in Scotland, he recently sent me this moving and generous blurb. I am so grateful he did, and that I asked.
“Like the best novels, Rachel Stolzman Gullo’s PRACTICE DYING deals with life’s biggest questions, among them: how do we find the courage to live and love in the face of all our collective suffering? Full of surprise encounters leading to even more surprising developments, this is a novel for seekers, like twins Jamila and David, for whom every day is an urgent and beautiful quest for connection and enlightenment.”
—Leland Cheuk, author of THE MISADVENTURES OF SULLIVER PONG and LETTERS FROM DINOSAURS
Each hour I hear the grind and shift of the tectonic plates of this planet and its inhabitants forcibly rubbing. A breaking point is underway. Can something be too obvious as to make it actually less visible? We’re expecting more subtle signs, something we have to find and uncover. These slaps in the face and deafening explosions leave us number and less certain of meaning. But I’m sensing that collectively most of us see the deal here. Power and wealth inequality like we’ve created in this past half century, create crisis, breakdown and destruction. The race to corporate and personal wealth have abused Earth, women, the poor and people of color. And those in extreme power become the sickest individuals among us. Those individuals who wield power over others by racism, classism, sexism, they are the most diseased of humans- their lives on a realm so far below those they oppress. The future might be better, far better, it might be worse- even annihilation. But I think we all hear the ground giving way. A new sprout must cause the total destruction of the seed.
This piece originally appeared in the Notes and Comment section of the July 3, 1943, issue of The New Yorker. “The 40s: The Story of a Decade,” an anthology of New Yorker articles, stories, and poems, will be released on Tuesday.
We received a letter from the Writers’ War Board the other day asking for a statement on “The Meaning of Democracy.” It presumably is our duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly our pleasure.
Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.—E. B. White