Entries from February 2012

Richard and Mildred Loving, 1965


Richard and Mildred Loving (1965), by Life photographer Grey Villet.

Exiled from their native Virginia for violating the state’s anti-miscegenation laws, the couple were the appellants in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Lovings’ story is told here. More on the Life magazine photos here and here.

Categories: Photography    Tags: ·

Week in Review

Today is Sunday. Let’s review the week’s surreal Defending Jacob news.

In Monday’s Times, Janet Maslin reviewed the book, which left her “wondering whether this book’s author, William Landay, a former district attorney with two well-received novels behind him, has developed the chops to catapult himself into the Scott Turow tier of legal-eagle blockbuster writers.”

Wednesday the Times released its latest bestseller list (to appear in the print edition on February 26). Defending Jacob actually climbed one spot, to number 3. Reuters and Publishers Weekly have the book at number 2.

Friday the Daily Mail published the first review in the UK. The opening paragraph (I am not making this up):

Not since Scott Turow has a crime thriller — any thriller, though this too happens to be a literary legal thriller — shaken me by the throat like this. It’s a stunning, shocking, emotionally harrowing ride in which the reader is plunged into a riveting but terrible murder trial and the equally heartbreaking implosion of a loving family. I had to lie down when I finished it (all too soon) to still my beating heart.

Now that’s a positive review!

Honestly, it’s hard to process all this. In the daily grind of writing, it’s a struggle just to churn out a few pages every day. How the work will be received is something I don’t think about. Like any other writer, I am painfully aware of the limits of my talent and the flaws in my work. This business is humbling enough without worrying about what the critics will say. So I am bemused — grateful, of course, but bemused — at the wonderful reception Defending Jacob has gotten these last couple of weeks. Here’s hoping for another week like last week.

Oh, and one other thing: this week saw a breakthrough in the fine art of book promotion, the Defending Jacob cookie. James Patterson, take note.

Categories: My Books    Tags:

What a week

It has been an incredible first week for Defending Jacob. Last Tuesday, the day the book was published, it hit #1 on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list and stayed there for most of the week. The ebook also spent most of the week at #4 or #5 on the B&N list. Amazon named it a Best Book of the Month and Editors’ Pick for Kindle, and sales promptly spiked there as well. Reviews ranged from flattering to really flattering to “Holy crap!” And all the while I’ve been on tour, visiting eight cities so far (I’m in Seattle as I write this, Portland tomorrow).

Today the week reached a surreal climax: I was told Defending Jacob will debut at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list. (That asterisk means the sales figures for Defending Jacob are barely distinguishable from the title above it.) (Update: To clarify, the book will appear on the print edition of the Times list on February 19. That list is available online here.)

I suppose things could get better, conceivably. But it’s hard to imagine.


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