I’ve been watching other writers work their magic lately. Intensely watching. A few weeks ago, I went to a luncheon where my friend Dottie Frank was the keynote. And tonight, I went to a reading at my local bookstore by Josh Braff, whose book “Peep Show” came out this week. I’m studying them because I’m doing the donor reception at the Newark Public Library on June 22. I want to be charming and lovable and to sell books.
Dottie, whose books always make the best-seller list, is an old hand at this. She’s got a lot of well-honed stories about her in-laws and some nice self-deprecating bits about life on the road during book tour. She’s got a great story about how and why she started writing. Listening to her speak is like being at a dinner party. She didn’t even bother reading.
Josh Braff is a bit shyer. (Well who isn’t shyer than Dottie Frank?) He’s cute and charming, and his style is a mixture of pretend hubris and self-deprecation. But he’s had some good breaks lately, and you can tell he’s starting to enjoy the ride. He was funniest when reading from his first book, “The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green” and he has a very practiced wind-up to reading from that book. Talking about how November is Jewish Book Month and how he goes to JCC’s all over the place, reads Jacob Green’s bar mitzvah thank-you notes and magic happens … people just open up their wallets and buy his books.
I have to admit to some — ok a lot — of professional jealousy of anybody whose book career is doing well these days. Anybody who’s getting attention. When Josh said he’s feeling good because his reviews are good, I just wanted to scream. How? How do you get reviews?
Is it a charm game? Are Dottie and Josh more likable than me? Better writers? Luckier?
I don’t know. I almost feel like Cars from a Marriage has already reached its expiration date. I’m torn. I feel like I should fight for it like I’d fight for either of my children, that it’s a good book that deserves better. But I want to move on. I really want to stop selling and start creating again.
Photo: Margot Sage-El of Watchung Booksellers, me and Dottie Frank at the Montclair College Women’s Luncheon May 22, 2010.