Entries from December 2011

Harlem, 1946

Pierce Arrow

Mr. Perkins Pierce Arrow, Harlem, New York
Todd Webb

Categories: Art · Photography    Tags: ·

New York, 1946

Street Market, Suffolk Street, New York

Street Market, Suffolk Street, New York
Todd Webb

Categories: Art · Photography    Tags: ·

Manhattan, 1959

Broadway at Wall Street

Broadway at Wall Street, New York
Todd Webb

Categories: Art · Photography    Tags: ·

“A fair-haired crew-cut lad”

Imlach letter

“You will no doubt remember a fair-haired crew-cut lad…” In the spring of 1960, Anthony Gilchrist, an old army buddy of Toronto Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach, recommends a 12-year-old prospect named Bobby Orr. The Maple Leafs’ response is here. The whole story is told here. (Via Pension Plan Puppets.)

Categories: Sports    Tags: · · ·

Another Star

I hate to turn this blog into an endless infomercial for Defending Jacob. I can’t imagine anything more tedious to read. But here I go again: another starred review, this one from Booklist magazine. (No link available yet. The review is in the print edition only, for now.) Booklist is an important tastemaker. As the trade journal of the American Library Association, librarians rely on it to help make buying decisions. And there are lots of librarians.

Money quote:

Landay’s two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003, and The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence with this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don’t miss it.


Categories: My Books    Tags:

Tour Schedule

Today I got the schedule for my author tour in support of Defending Jacob. It’s a doozy, ten appearances in ten days in nine cities. In order, they are: Boston, Kansas City, Houston, Denver, Scottsdale, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland. Then a final stop at my childhood bookstore, the wonderful Brookline Booksmith, which still looks pretty much the way it did when I was a kid. It was called the Paperback Booksmith then. It had a funkier vibe than it does now, but the bones of the place haven’t changed. Same creaky floors, same basic layout. I used to love wandering around there. Still do. It is a fitting place to end the tour.

For someone who has never toured at all, this feels like a jump to the big leagues. I am flattered, to be honest. These are lean times in publishing (and not just in publishing). Extravagant author tours are unheard of. It is a measure of Random House’s high hopes for this book that they are willing to foot the bill for all this. And stay tuned, there is much more to come.

The full schedule is here. If you live in any of these places, come on out and say hello. I promise to be spellbinding company, even if I’m a little delirious with jet lag.

Categories: My Books    Tags:

Robert Longo: Untitled (Windows at Night)

Robert Longo - Untitled (Windows at Night)

Robert Longo
Untitled (Windows at Night)
Charcoal on mounted paper
60 x 120 inches


Categories: Art    Tags: ·

How to Start

“The only possible way to begin a book is to tell oneself that its eventual failure is guaranteed — but survivable.”

Alain de Botton

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·

Rodin: The Old Courtesan

Rodin - The Old Courtesan

Auguste Rodin
The Old Courtesan
Also called She Who Was The Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife (Celle qui fut la belle heaulmière)
Modeled 1887, this bronze cast 1969
(via Brooklyn Museum)

“Anyone can see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl she used to be. A great artist can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is … and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be … more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo see that this lovely young girl is still alive, prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart.”

— Robert A. Heinlein, referring to this sculpture in Stranger in a Strange Land

Categories: Art    Tags: · · ·

Up the Amazon

So many exciting things are happening behind the scenes with Defending Jacob, but most of the news is still top secret. My editor has regularly sworn me to silence, and because it is too late for me to get a real job, I will do as I’m told and keep my mouth shut. But here is some news I can share.

One nice feature of Amazon’s book pages is the occasional “guest review” by an author. For Defending Jacob, two star suspense writers have chimed in with very generous reviews. Philip Margolin, who has yet to write a novel that does not make the Times bestseller list, wrote:

The books I blurb range from fun reads to very good reads. Then there is the rare book that knocks my socks off. William Landay’s Defending Jacob is one of these gems. It is a legal thriller, but so are To Kill a Mockingbird, Snow Falling on Cedars and Anatomy of a Murder. Defending Jacob, like these classics, separates itself from the pack because it is also a searing work of literary fiction.

Joseph Finder, whose espionage and suspense novels also sell in outlandish numbers, might actually be more enthusiastic.

Scott Turow invented the modern legal thriller, I’d argue, with his astonishing 1987 novel Presumed Innocent. … Turow’s had many imitators since then, but nothing has come close to the power, the narrative skill and the legal cleverness of Presumed Innocent.

Until now.

It is a little surreal to read such extravagant praise for my own book, especially praise from fellow writers, which carries more weight. And of course I am thrilled that Defending Jacob will have such a kick-ass Amazon page. But what impresses me most about the whole thing is how incredibly gracious these two authors have been.

Mind you, this is not logrolling. I am in no position to repay the favor, since a blurb from a no-name like me is of zero value. Nor do I have a relationship with either writer. I have never met Margolin, and Finder I’ve met only a handful of times, very briefly. None of us share a common publisher, editor, agent, dentist, car mechanic, or anything else. So neither of these guys has anything to gain. Apparently they are endorsing the book for no other reason than that they believe in it and want to help an obscure mid-list author find a wider audience. It’s so generous, so — there’s no other word for it — nice … well, I can hardly begin to explain it.

So I will just say “thank you” to both, publicly. And if you find yourself in a bookstore with a novel by Finder or Margolin in front of you, remember that these are two of the good guys.

Categories: My Books    Tags:

The Shape of Things to Come

Braun T3 and first-gen iPod

Braun T3 pocket radio (1958) and first-generation iPod (2001) (not to scale).

The influence of Dieter Rams’ designs on Apple has been widely noted, for example here and here. A better view of the Braun T3 is here.

Categories: Design    Tags: · ·

Just create to create

You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.

The Right Brain Terrain Manifesto

Categories: Creativity · Writing    Tags: