November 26 Update: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik just reported on their hourly news bulletin that Lara Logan and the producer of the botched “60 Minutes” segment on Benghazi have been put on a leave of absence for the many misjudgments they made in producing writing that piece for the show. More to come . . .
Kudos to Jeff Stein, veteran national security and intelligence reporter, for his important Newsweek story, “Lara Logan’s Mystery Man”. He explores what may have motivated Logan to so badly mis-report her “60 Minutes” story on Benghazi which was built upon the contributions of a source who claimed to be an eyewitness to events it is now understood he couldn’t have seen. Almost immediately after the October 27 airing of the segment, critics began questioning the CBS broadcast, but it took the network several days to even acknowledge any problems with the story, and then finally disown it, with a brief and unrevealing Logan apology on air two weeks later.
Most significantly, judging from Stein’s article, he managed to speak with Logan’s husband, the mystery man of Stein’s title, whose background includes a stint with the Lincoln Group, a company that the Pentagon, under Donald Rumsfeld, hired to supply fake positive news during the Iraq War. I relish the vision of Stein talking his way past Logan & Burkett’s front door, before, I assume, he was asked to leave. I recommend you read Stein’s whole story, but here’s the final portion as a sample:
“So why did Logan put that story on the air? Her pro-military bias is as well known, but so is her mettle – she’s worked in some of those most dangerous parts of war-ravaged Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt, where she was sexually assaulted by a mob. She won an Emmy for one of her Iraq reports. In other words, she’s a smart, tough, experienced reporter. And the producer and writers and reporters who helped her put this Benghazi story together are honored, respected professionals, many of whom have been covering the region for years. Whoever fooled them, whoever convinced them that al Qaeda orchestrated that attack on the U.S. embassy, had to be smart, incredibly persuasive and savvy about the media. And unquotable. In other words, an intelligence source. And the person closest to Logan with those credentials is her husband. But he’s not talking.”
Did Burkett have an uncredited role in producing Logan’s story? Stein’s story makes me wonder. That would be a big deal.
The contrast between CBS’s veritable stonewalling on Logan’s flawed report, and their total repudiation of Dan Rather’s “60 Minutes II” story on George W. Bush’s National Guard records–which despite errors, actually had many accurate elements–is striking. In 2004, the network appointed a blue-ribbon panel to study what went awry and fired producer Mary Mapes. In the current instance, there’s been no public airing of what wrong, and no one, least of all Logan, has been dismissed or publicly criticized. There’s also been no public admission that “60 Minutes” has a corporate sibling relationship with Threshold Editions, the conservative book imprint at fellow Viacom company Simon & Schuster, that published (and then withdrew) the fraudulent “witness’s” book. Did Logan allow her personal agenda, or that of her husband John Burkett, to color her reporting? We may never know, unless and until CBS becomes more transparent on this troubling incident.
On a lighter note, I also have to give props to Jeff Stein for a keen cinematic reference in his story, likening John Burkett as a “puffer” to Steve McQueen’s character in “Solider in the Rain” (1963), with Jackie Gleason, based on the fine novel by William Goldman.
As a member of PEN America, I was invited to participate in a PEN speak-out Tuesday night that was part of Talking Transition, an event going on all week and next in Soho, providing input on policy and priorities to NYC’s incoming mayor Bill de Blasio, all citywide officeholders, and the new members of our City Council. Talking Transition is taking place in a big heated tent that’s set up on the north side of Canal Street, along Sixth Avenue. Each day this week has been devoted to a different topic–Tuesday night had an emphasis on Arts & Culture. PEN chose to devote its 90-minute slot to “Keeping NYC a literary and cultural capital.” On Twitter, you can follow transition events @TalkNYC2013 and the hashtag #TalkingTransition.
Each member who chose to speak was given just a 3-minute slot, so we really had to hone our points. The group, which included almost two dozen speakers, included several poets, administrators of poetry and literary programs, and publishing colleagues. The evening moved along with alacrity in front of a pretty good-sized audience under the big tent. This was the preliminary list of speakers, which came off with only a few small changes. I titled my own talk “Support the Book Economy, Foster Publishing Experiments.” The transcript of my remarks, delivered almost verbatim, is here, and below it is a point I would’ve made with a little more time.
Support the Book Economy, Foster Publishing Experiments.
When the recession hit in September 2008, the book economy in New York, was already in a parlous state. To choose just two measures, the rate of closure among indie bookstores was rising and the income of midlist authors was declining, along with their access to being published at all. A few months later, in January 2009, I was swept out of a corporate publishing job where I’d been the editorial director of a book imprint. Much as I could talk about my experiences over the past five years, or my three decades in the book business, this talk is not about me, for I am only one among 100s of publishing professionals who lost full time jobs in the months and years since the economic collapse who have yet to again find full employment.To get at the scale of the problem, consider that in 2009 Publishers Weekly started a “Comings & Goings” feature that allowed folks to submit their contact info so that others who wanted to be in touch, to hire them, or just to network, could do so. It had over 200 names at one point. And then last month another book news outlet, Media Bistro’s galleycat, created a directory of just freelance editors, which after a few weeks already has nearly 300 people in it. Based on my observations of book industry layoffs, I’m sure that these figures of self-selecting people only hint at the total numbers.
Clearly, there is still a wealth of great publishing talent in the city. That’s good news. And yet while many of us are still working as editors, marketers, and publicists, or working in adjacent fields like online news, often we are not being paid adequately, and sometimes not at all, for time spent on publishing tasks we hope will one day turn in to full time jobs or paying assignments. Regrettably, this condition persists even while the book industry has experienced a boom from digital reading that’s given greater exposure to book culture, increased the engagement of many readers, and left thousand of readers more avid for books, print and digital.
Yet, even while the boom has grown, the benefits of it are not being felt by most of the under-employed full time publishing workers. This dire situation offers the city an opportunity to capitalize on the talents of all these bookpeople with publishing incubators that would foster innovation, experiments, and new models to help business-savvy bookpeople turn their enterprises and current projects in to job-creating engines of the book and the New York City economy.
Therefore, I urge City Council and all citywide officeholders to establish public-private partnerships and other initiatives that would help make available low-cost or no-cost business enterprise advice (legal, accounting, financing); no-cost or low-cost workspaces where people could share cubicles, WiFi, and conference rooms. With philanthropic support, or venture capitalists with money looking to do good, a fund for experiments could be launched, with grants being provided to offer recognition, encouragement and a stipend. I urge the tech community, really a first cousin to digital publishing, to work with bookpeople to create new initiatives that will elevate the entrepreneurial efforts of New York City’s publishing community.
My addendum to these comments is an explicitly political point. One of the reasons that the economy remains anemic in New York City and around the country–with a lack of full employment for millions of people, not just publishing professionals–is that obstructionists in Congress have imposed austerity on the country. Since 2010, right-wing politicians have thwarted any ongoing economic stimulus that would, if enacted, help prime the pump and accelerate demand. This has been denied us, even at a time of very low interest rates. Now, with the victories of Mayor-elect de Blasio, many progressive citywide officeholders, including by far the most progressive City Council since I moved to New York in 1985, I hope that the city, and my own precious book industry, can have, courtesy of the new actors in city government, its own local and direct stimulus that will benefit publishing, readers, authors, and all of New York City.
Finally, here are pictures I took Monday and Tuesday night when I attending Talking Transition events. PEN Participants had been asked to submit favorite quotations, our own, or those of other writers, which you’ll see in a tweet cloud in many of the photos. Please click here to view them.
#FridayReads, Nov 8–While I’m sure I’ll be reading a proper book or two this weekend, my reading this week has been dominated by work-related materials–nonfiction book proposals, fiction manuscripts and lots of promising queries on submission to me in my work as a literary agent, part of my publishing work. Here’s a rundown on some of what I’m looking at, only in generalities out of deference to the writers whose work I’m considering: 1) a proposal for a book that will explore the motive behind one of the most infamous consequential political crimes of the 20th century, while also one of its least examined; 2) a hardboiled crime novel about the theft of an election in a battleground midwestern state; 3) several works by a British scholar with a rigorous approach to unexplained phenomena involving the super- or even the paranormal; and 4) an original manuscript that includes the original heretofore unpublished memoir of Hollywood’s most idiosyncratic, even weird, movie-making mogul.
Peter has established a Tumblr blog where he’s sharing the documentary underpinnings of his novel, with such artifacts as photos of CIA directors Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, a U-2 spy plane, and Senator Richard Russell, the politician on whose staff title character Winston Bates serves. Captions on the blog are cleverly written from the persona and in the voice of Bates, an expat Canadian now working for Russell, who was in real life one of the most powerful figures in the US senate. Though I haven’t begun reading it yet, this novel, like several I’ve read in recent months, especially Jayne Anne Phillips Quiet Dell, is part of a genre I’ve begun calling “documentary fiction,” with books that draw on events, artifacts, and figures from history. To show the other, more imaginative side of his enterprise, Peter Warner has created a Facebook author page with postings about the creative underpinnings of the book. This comment of his caught my eye, as the proprietor of a sister blog to The Great Gray Bridge called Honourary Canadian.
“My Personal Alternate History
In my last post I wrote about The Moleas a different take on the literary category of alternate history. But I think almost everyone has, in the back of his or her mind, an alternative life story that comes to mind on occasion: What if I had taken that job? What if I had made that investment? What if I had married that crazy person? In my case there is one alternate history that I share with almost every man of my generation: What if I had moved to Canada as a war resistor or to escape the draft during the Vietnam War era? There are also tens of thousands of American men, now Canadian citizens, who probably wonder: What if I hadn’t moved to Canada to avoid the draft? In my case, I was lucky to get a draft exemption after couple of years of anxiety. Subsequently, my publishing career took me to Canada at least twice a year for more than twenty years. I am sure having regular opportunities to imagine myself as a Canadian while in Canada played a part in the central plot of The Mole—that there might have been a Canadian “sleeper” at the heart of the American political establishment, doing his best (or worst) to undermine the so-called “American Century.” In Canada, I sometimes sensed in my friends a kind of ironic armor they had developed to accept (sometimes endure) that huge, well-intentioned, sometimes irrational, culturally inescapable, totally oblivious neighbor to the south. I hope Canadian readers will look at The Mole as a kind of delicious literary revenge.”
I did not have quite the same experience of the Vietnam era as Peter, since I am a bit younger than him, but my brother Joel, almost four years older than me, certainly did sweat the draft lottery along with millions of other older teenage boys in the US. One more connection that I found I have to The Moleis through a history book I published at Carroll & Graf in 2006, How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair & the Hunt for Soviet Spies, by Canadian historian Amy Knight. She chronicles the strange events involving Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cypher clerk who in 1945, while employed at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, walked away from his desk and defected to the West with a trove of secrets and information that indicated a Soviet spy network was then operating in North America. It became an international cause celebre, lasting for several years, with Gouzenko seeking and receiving permission to live in Canada. It was, for its day, an Edward Snowden-type event.
The intense publicity did eventually subside and about 20 years after his defection, Gouzenko actually appeared on Canadian TV, disguised by a hooded mask that had eyeholes cut out for him to see. To Americans, it looks instantly like a KKK hood, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t seen that way in Canada in 1965. Knight chronicles this as the all-too-amazing-to-be-true-but-is story that it was. Among the odd aspects of the incident was that Gouzenko, who somehow evaded the supervision at the embassy with his pregnant wife and their two-year old son, could not at first get any Canadian authorities to accept that he was an authentic defector. They ended up walking around Canada’s capitol city for more than 40 hours, finally being believed after first futilely visiting several Canadian government offices.* Occurring even before WWII had ended, the Gouzenko incident set off a cascade of frantic maneuvering among leaders of the USA, Canada, Soviet Union, and Britain, their intelligence services, and even our FBI. The countries were all nominally still allies, but this episode displayed the ill will and suspicion that would dominate the Cold War.
It is against that historical backdrop that a character like Peter Warner’s Winston Bates operates. All these personal connections to Peter Warner and The Molehave me eager and excited to begin reading his book.
*Via this link is a fascinating video of Gouzenko’s appearance on the CBC news program “Seven Days.” The first CBC host to speak is the great broadcaster Patrick Watson, later a novelist, who in 1979 visited Undercover Books, my bookstore, for a great in-store appearance promoting his novel Alter Ego, a kind of “Memento”–type story, written many years before that entertaining film was made.
Last summer I wrote a #FridayReads essay that recalled a 1979 visit to my bookstore Undercover Books by a young novelist named Stephen King–then only in the early years of what would become his decades-long career as a bestselling novelist. While discussing his new book Dead Zone he excitedly recommended to me a novel from his publisher, The Dogs of Marchby Ernest Hebert. I eagerly told King that I had already read Hebert’s book and that I would from then on tell my customers about his endorsement of it, and recommend it even more energetically. Soon after King’s visit to my bookstore, I wrote a letter to Hebert c/o his editor, the late and much-missed Alan Williams at the Viking Press (who was also King’s editor then). I let Hebert know that I’d enjoyed The Dogs of March, and that he and his novel had boosters in Stephen King and at my bookstore. After, that Ernie, as I came to know him, and I carried on a correspondence that continued for several years. I also visited him and his family on trips I made from Cleveland back to New Hampshire, where I had attended Franconia College earlier in the ’70s. One of the things that Ernie did with great skill in The Dogs of Marchwas to juxtapose longtime residents in New England towns with incomers, or as he puts it, “natives vs. newcomers.” He wrote compelling fiction about all kinds of characters, and did it with a sharp edge of social observation.
While Ernie and I later fell out of touch, I kept an eye out for his work, noting that he had moved on from working as a newspaper reporter when I first met him, to teaching writing at Dartmouth College, all while he continued to write and publish novels. In fact, The Dogs of Marchwas followed by a string of related books, collectively known as the Darby Chronicles, named after the town where he had set them, as well as a historical novel and a piece of speculative fiction. After I wrote about Stephen King and The Dogs of Marchlast July, Ernie and I got back in touch, a happy reunion. He writes a superb blog of his own filled with writerly craft, which I subscribe to and visit regularly. This week Ernie published a new post informing readers that in Fall 2014 the University Press of New England will publish Howard Elman’s Farewell, the seventh book in the Darby series.* I recommend that new post, where he also writes about a guide to the Darby Chronicles he’ll be publishing online. His blog is filled with keen reflections showing how a career novelist thinks about his books–before they’re written, while they’re being composed, and once they are completed and out in the world. I also recommend his books of course, and suggest if you’re just starting on them you begin with The Dogs of March.. Here’s a picture gallery of all my editions of Ernest Hebert’s books, with author photos, many of them taken by his wife Medora Hebert:
* The seven books in the Darby Chronicles are The Dogs of March; A Little More Than Kin; Whisper My Name; The Passion of Estelle Jordan; Live Free or Die; Spoonwood; and (forthcoming) Howard Elman’s Farewell.
Among the best books that I discovered during Book Expo America (BEA) last June, was Quiet Dellby Jayne Anne Phillips. In August I had made this mesmerizing novel–set in 1930s West Virginia, drawn from the annals of a notorious true crime–one of my #FridayReads and have written about it a few times since, including in a post about what I’ve dubbed “documentary fiction.” Early newspaper reviews have been great, including praise by the Tampa Bay Times Book Editor Colette Bancroft (“Sometimes eerie and dreamlike, others grippingly tense, yet warmly human, always written with beauty and emotional power, Quiet Dellis a virtuoso performance by a highly original writer.”); Amy Driscoll in the Miami Herald (“A smart combination of true crime, history and fiction tied together with Phillips’ seamlessly elegant writing….Phillips writes with a tone that is sometimes impressionistic, sometimes hard-edged. It’s a linguistic balancing act that results in an emotional chiaroscuro.”); and Celia McGee in the Chicago Tribune (“If the factual underpinnings of this latest novel are unusual for Phillips, her ability to transform them into a fictionalized narrative place her at the top of her form. Phillips has…create[d] a story both splendid and irreparably sad.”).
The book was officially published yesterday, and I was excited to attend Phillips’ first reading and signing for it last night. The event drew a big crowd to the Rare Book Room at the Strand Bookstore. Phillips read three sections from the novel, introducing nine-year old Annabel Eicher, who has a lingering presence in the narrative, even after she and her family are taken off by their killer, under the guise of her widowed mother’s suitor; a dog with the Victorian name, Duty, a kind of avenger on behalf of the Eicher family that had adopted the loyal Boston Terrier (the AP review dubs him “one of fiction’s best dogs); and journalist Emily Thornhill, who reports on the criminal case and ensuing trial for a Chicago newspaper. She was a careful reader of her own prose, with appropriate weight given to key passages.
Phillips left the lectern and joined writer Amy Hempel, seated in a chair at the front of the room. Hempel began their conversation by asking who among the audience were readers of the True Crime genre. A number of hands went up, including mine. Hempel continued, asking Phillips about her decision not to dwell in the sensational aspects of the crime that is the basis of the book, and instead focus on imagining the lives of the Eicher family before they became the victims that history has remembered them as, at least until Quiet Dell. Hempel added that Phillips also might tell the audience about the video book trailer (pasted in below) that has accompanied the book’s release.
Phillips responded, “I grew up in a little town and Quiet Dell was a tiny hamlet nearby of maybe 100 people. My family had been in West Virginia since the 1700s.” Her mother at just age six had been aware of the sensation that discovery of the crimes caused in the region. “Many thousands of people walked past the crime site. People almost made pilgrimages there.” She said, “almost everything in the book is based on fact” and the available historical record, “except for Emily [Thornhill]‘s intuitions. . . . I feel a life is not defined by its brevity, but by its intensity and the idea behind fiction is too allow a reader to enter a life through a kind of complex empathy, to really feel that life. And, I think or I hope, that you feel each one of these children. There is a sense of adjacent dimensions, all the way through the book. From the very beginning, in the beautiful Christmas section, the reader is aware in ways the characters are not, of Annabel’s slightly strange pronouncements which people are accustomed to hearing from her, which actually do in some way foreshadow something what is going to happen and if it’s going to happen, what does that mean? That’s a real mystery.”
After about twenty-five minutes of conversation, Hempel asked her final question and the floor was opened to questions and comments from the audience. I raised my hand and first told Phillips how much I’d loved reading Quiet Dell. Thinking of “documentary fiction” as a new sort of genre, I added that we seem nowadays to live in an age of mashups in which creators borrow material from many sources, and that while she had been thinking about writing this book for many years, I was glad that it had come out now because it seemed almost as though the culture had matured to the point where collage-like works like this were more apt to be accepted and appreciated than they might have been at another time. Had I been smarter at that moment, I would have recalled that as early as the 1940s John Dos Passos was using an assemblage technique for his USA Trilogy, but that aside, Phillips had a great response: “Well, I hope you’re right. To me the fascinating thing was that I was inside this invented world, and yet in the snippets of these articles there were the names of my characters so it kept underscoring the reality all the way through. And the photographs, it was just an incredible boon, to have this backbone of reality and yet all the meaning was really inside the fiction, that had to be invented.”
Among the questions that followed was one about Phillips’ writing process, to which she responded that due to her full time job at Rutgers University (where she’s Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing), she finds she can only write full-time during the summer. It occurred to me, I bet she’s a great teacher, too, as well as a superb fiction writer. Standing in line later, I reintroduced myself to Phillips (we had met briefly last spring at the NBCC awards and in the summer at BEA) and had her sign two of her earlier books I bought that the Strand had on hand, Lark & Termite and Black Tickets. Below is the video trailer and photos from last night’s inspiring literary event.
Joe and I had last met up in 2010 when he was part of a New York Timespanel that included Nora Ephron, Anna Devere Smith, Roy Blount, Jr., and Garrison Keillor marking the 25th anniversary of the Times’ Op-Ed pages. It was moderated by then Op-Ed page editor David Shipley*, who invited Joe because he judged Joe’s July 6 2003 op-ed What I Didn’t Find in Africa had been one of the most historically significant columns the newspaper published that decade. It led to the Bush administration’s repeated disclosures that Joe’s wife Valerie Plame was a CIA official and years of flimsy denials that the administration had doctored the intelligence that fueled their false claims about WMDs in Iraq, enabling the unjustified invasion of the country.
Publishing The Politics of Truth was a high-wire act for Joe, for me and for Carroll & Graf that lasted over a year. In July ’03, I heard about it right away when Valerie’s CIA employment was reported by columnist Robert Novak. A few weeks later indie book publicist Barbara Monteiro connected me with Joe. She had earlier worked on the book I did with Whitewater heroine Susan MacDougal. Barbara knew my sense of justice would’ve been offended by what was being done to Valerie, and Joe. He had been writing opinion columns about Bush’s misguided rush to war and was already thinking of writing a book. We quickly made a deal and got to work while the news story swirling around Valerie and Joe grew and grew.
Right off the bat, we were fortunate in that before retiring from the State Dept in 1998, following 25 years in the foreign service, Joe had sat for a full oral history of his career. He had the transcript and used it as an aide-mémoire and the basis of the historical portions of the book, later justifying our use of two subtitles on the front cover and spine! With this foundation, Joe then wrote practically every day and in February ’04 he delivered an excellent 150,000 word manuscript to me. C & G leapt in to action, as colleagues from several departments and I line-edited, copyedited, designed, typeset, indexed, and produced the book on a “crash” production schedule, for planned release only four months later, in what was going to be May ’04, less than a year after Novak’s column. From a marketing and strategic standpoint, it was like riding a tiger.
The toughest part of this as a publishing proposition was that though the story had only gotten bigger over the intervening months–and while we knew we’d be able to book Joe on tons of media–at the same time we wondered and worried:
What will be the state of the journalistic investigations and of the federal grand jury hearings looking into the unauthorized disclosure when we publish the book?
How can Joe in the book, in his public statements, and we in our press materials take advantage of new developments while still conforming to the latest important events?
How could we take advantage of breaking news but not have Joe get too far out on things that were constantly shifting?
Of course, for Valerie and Joe it was more than a publishing proposition, it was their lives. This was a dynamic in publishing a book I had never encountered before, a delicate strategic challenge. I was already a highly-tuned-in-to-news-person, especially after the 2000 presidential election and 9/11, but this tendency became even more pronounced the year I was actively working every day on Joe’s book. The book sold more than 60,000 copies in hardcover and spent more than a month on the NY Times Bestseller list. I have written about the lessons I learned working on it a number of times on this blog, in such posts as “Hubris”–10 Years Later, Run-up to the Iraq War Still Shadows the Media & the U.S. and On the Imperative of Publishing Whistleblowers.
We enjoyed meeting the three co-hosts and many of our fellow guests. Among the latter group was one of my favorite suspense writers Lee Child, with whom we happened to ride up in the elevator. About Blowback he’s said: ”Great storytelling, real insider authenticity, and above all a fascinating main character in Vanessa Pierson. And maybe those initials are not a coincidence–sometimes fiction can reveal things nonfiction can’t.” The latter part of Child’s blurb–and the reference to “redaction” in my tweet above–are rueful nods to the unfortunate fact that Fair Game was heavily redacted by the Bush-era CIA, and though it had a well-reported Afterword by national security reporter Laura Rozen, the many blacked-out passages inevitably left readers in the dark in many areas. I’ve included three of Child’s books among my weekly #FridayReads essays, including Worth Dying For, a true corker of a suspense novel, the first of Child’s Jack Reacher books that I read. His latest is Never Go Back, which I am eager to read. Guest Maggie Topkis–longtime co-proprietor of the NYC mystery bookstore Partners and Crime who nowadays works with Lee Child–told me she thinks it’s his best book yet, which is saying a lot.
I met co-author Sarah Lovett, and told her how much I’d enjoyed reading Blowback. From Blue Rider Press, I congratulated David Rosenthal, Valerie’s publisher, and Executive Editor Sarah Hochman. I was also glad to see the two sides of the recent Penguin Random House merger well represented, with Kent Anderson, a sales rep from Penguin (now Penguin Random House). He had been with Publishers Group West, distributor for Carroll & Graf, when I published The Politics of Truth there in 2004. With Kent, I saw Madeline McIntosh, COO of Random House, a senior executive in the merged company. I liked that she had come to this book party for a key title of a Penguin imprint.
I was also glad to see book biz pal Will Schwalbe,* who after a distinguished publishing career has made himself in to a successful author most recently with The End of Your Life Book Club, which I wrote about here. Will explained that he and Naomi had been old college classmates, and said how much he’d enjoyed her poetry from those years. Naomi seemed touched by that. Will graciously introduced me to Naomi who asked how I had come to know Joe and Valerie, at which I mentioned The Politics of Truth . She said how glad she was to be able to show special support for Valerie and her new book. Those comments were echoed when a few minutes later she and Doug Liman convened the gathering for toasts and congratulations. Liman gestured toward a nearby portrait of his late father, the prominent lawyer Arthur Liman, a pivotal player in the Iran-Contra scandal who served as chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated the Reagan’s administration’s notorious arms-for-hostages conspiracy. The younger Liman cited his father’s example as an inspiration to him in working with dedicated public servants like Valerie and Joe.
After the toasts, I approached Joe once more. As we chatted Ewan took a picture of us. Here it is, along with a few others from last night. (Please click here to see all pics) It was a fun book party and the three of us were very happy to be a part of the celebration.
If you’re looking for realistic and pacy suspense fiction with a smart and appealing female protagonist, I highly recommend Blowback , the first of a series featuring covert operative Vanessa Pierson. Valerie has done lots of media this week including “Morning Joe” (See video below.) One of Valerie’s next stops is going to be in Washington, DC this Friday night, October 5, when Laura Rozen will be interviewing her at Politics & Prose Bookstore.
Last Sunday, which happened to be my birthday, Kyle and I headed out to the Brooklyn Book Festival, the third year in a row we’ve attended this urban book extravaganza. We had a great time at this event which for us has replaced BEA as the most enjoyable book occasion on our literary calendar. We spent nearly 3 hours in Brooklyn, enjoying the crisp autumn air, blue skies, bright sunshine, and many serendipitous encounters with friendly bookpeople. If you’re in the NYC area, and you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Book festival, I urge you to go next year. It was a great way to spend a birthday, especially because we followed it by having a meal at a new restaurant we were eager to try, A Taste of Persia, covered yesterday on this blog. All the photos in this post were taken by Kyle Gallup. Click here to view them.
Readers of The Great Gray Bridge can buy books from Powell's Books of Portland, OR. You may search for a book here, or in my blog posts click on a title, many of which now link directly to Powell's site. They then return a portion of your purchase to help maintain this site.