April 21, 2012

This morning I forced myself out of bed too early. I needed the season’s fruits, and they were worth the effort. Our local farmers’ market meets on Saturdays and you’d best get there early–this week the shiitakes were already sold out, a half hour in.

It’s gray and drizzly on the north coast, back down into the low forties after yesterday’s balmy 75 degree sunshine. I parked a block away and waded through wet grass under trees all in bloom with tiny white flowers. The stalls held green garlic, tiny sweet potatoes, sun chokes, yellow and white oyster mushrooms, greens, asparagus, and a new goat cheese with a rind, that tastes like a fresher version of brie. These all went into the cast iron pan, soon as I got home (I forgot the mushrooms and asparagus, so they wait till dinner). Quick sauteed in porcini mushroom olive oil (gift from a friend, from the same market–Thanks, Pat!), I tossed in an egg, and some leftover whole grain cereal cooked yesterday, and breakfast was on.
The other night I missed a reading–I don’t make it to many, these days, and this was not to be one. Food poisoning rushes up so fast you don’t have time or the wherewithal to think. It works you over–in this case, for fifteen or twenty hours–then it’s gone as fast as it came. I’ve never been good at fasting, my blood sugar doesn’t seem to handle it, and this thing kept me from eating more than a bite or two all day long, so it left me famished.
I wrote a poem a couple years back about eating samosas and tandoori roti after chemo. The foods we crave reflect something deep inside our lives, our bodies. One of the first things I was able to eat as this food poisoning ebbed was a couple spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurt. On instinct the next day I took it easy on caffeine, but to the dregs of my mostly-decaf, I melted in a little wedge of Mexican chocolate–not a habit, but the urge proclaimed a need.
I received unhappy news a couple weeks ago about a colleague’s health. We only recently became acquainted when she emailed about a blog post, disagreeing with something I wrote about her press. Our conversation became quite animated and rich and she agreed that I could post excerpts here of our dialogue about the definition of vanity publishing in this brave new world of bookselling. I’ll get to that any day now…
I’ve heard too many stories of late, about small presses where the publisher’s health takes a turn for the worse, putting the press in jeopardy. Most really small presses, especially the independents which are not subsidized by universities or anyone else, operate on a thin margin at best. This colleague I referred to supports her family with the proceeds from her press, so when I heard the news I worried for not just the books she produces but all the people whose livelihood depends on those books. The artists we represent sometimes forget that those who produce their work are small businessmen and women, prey to all the pitfalls of a kattywompus economy.
Spell check should really stop highlighting that word, kattywompus. It’s in the dictionary in several forms. At AWP, an editor from Quiddity kindly came over to tell me about a new volume of a wonderful dictionary, in which kattywompus makes an official appearance representing Southern Midland dialect. You can read more here¬†about the Dictionary of American Regional English.
Just in case you were thinking that any aspect of contemporary publishing and bookselling is simple, check out the trenchant newsletter post from our friend Suzanne, at MacsBacks bookstore, where she lays out the politics of e-book prices, and tells us why Amazon and our government get it wrong. Her comments are at the bottom of her homepage along with a link to Scott Turow’s Authors Guild post on the Justice Department’s proposed settlement of a lawsuit that will affect all of the smaller players in the industry, not just Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Outside my window the trees are an intense bright spring green amongst the persistent lilac and a bit of forsythia. Today we’re working on the website–cyber-mice have been chewing the wires in here, glitching up a couple things behind this spiffy blog you’re reading. And we’re gluing more books, sending out more books, editing and laying out more books, printing up more books, reading more manuscripts. Books!
With love,