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June 15th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

One More BEA in the Books—2014 Edition

I’ve noticed we live now in an age of reunions, with various landmarks in our lives regularly memorialized. There are invitations to school reunions, throw-back Thursdays in our social networks (aka #tbt), and much (re)greeting and (re-)meeting at occasions related to our professions. Most recent among these for me was Book Expo America (BEA), held in NYC May 28-31 at the Javits Center.

I’ve been attending the annual book convention most years since 1978, when I got started in the book business with Undercover Books, the bookstore chain I ran with my siblings and our parents until 1985, when I came to NY and began working in publishing. Over the past ten years BEA has almost always been held in NY, though in earlier decades the book industry held its trade show in Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. For a long time the event was called ABA, until the American Booksellers Association, the trade group of indie booksellers that ran it, sold the show to Reed Exhibitions, a corporation that runs such conventions. The regular meetings with many of the same people over many years accounts in part for the warmth and chumminess that makes the book business such a special field to work in.

A hunger for human connections, for friends new and old, in business and in our lives, has long been part of human nature, and I believe it’s increasing. Our society is in the third decade of the Internet, with more and more virtuality in our lives all the time, so true human contact is welcomed, especially with the economic stresses so many live with, leading us to crave actually seeing old friends and establish new relationships, giving us a chance to speak of our latest enterprises and tell our personal stories, while listening to those of our friends and counterparts. I think this appetite for the actual is also responsible for the growth I’ve noticed in the field of educational conferences—public events that have thematic programming, and often quite interesting public speakers, who may speak on their own, often with projected slides, or as part of panels with multiple speakers in conversation.

I think this also helps explain why a company for which I consult, ExpertFile.com has made a good business for itself the past few years. I began working with them after I met CEO Peter Evans at Digital Book World in 2011, when they were known as SpeakerFile. One of the areas in which they’d established themselves was to help meeting planners connect with the right speakers for each event, sort of like an eHarmony for the conference industry. In their name change ExpertFile identifies the gaining of expertise as a great need of modern professionals. They still work in the conference area, but now concentrate on helping organizations amplify and promote their in-house talent through online expert centers created with ExpertFile’s unique software, enabling members of the media, businesspeople, and conference organizers to discover these uniquely talented people. During BEA, I was tweeting tech stories from the floor that I found compelling, like this one.

Another intriguing company, new to me, if not entirely new in the market, was Mediander, which describes itself as creating “a knowledge engine, and power[ing] contextual discovery.” I was reminded in what they’re doing of Small Demons, the now-shuttered company that emphasized keyword indexing and mapping of publishers’ titles. I look forward to seeing what Mediander does in months to come. 

I note that during the recession, while so many industries floundered or sunk, conferences (like Aspen Institute, TED, TEDx, and Digital Book World flourished). Though O’Reilly and F&W Media shuttered Tools of Change after 2013, they still run a bunch of other conferences. By contrast, it must be said that the convention business—with events like BEA, where attendees still stroll aisles of booths set up by exhibitors—is relatively weak. BEA is trying to affiliate itself with more programmed events, but at its core it’s still been a trade show with floor exhibits mounted mostly by, in our case, publishers. Significantly, in 2013, and again this year, BEA has on its last day opened the show to the reading and bookbuying public—fans of authors—an inevitable evolution that I endorse. This latter part of BEA is now called BookCon, and Shelf Awareness reports that next year Reed will extend the the convention by a day, into Sunday with a second day of BookCon. This move, mixing an industry show with a consumer show, echoes ComicCon, a very successful show in Reed’s line-up. This year BookCon seemed to go very well, with more than 10,000 members of the reading public buying tickets and attending, as you’ll see from some photos below.

I’m going to reserve my book and publisher commentary for the captions accompanying the pictures below, most of them taken by Kyle Gallup, my wife, a painter, and Managing Editor of Philip Turner Book Productions.

Before that, I’ll say I’ve already read and enjoyed one book I got at Book Expo, Harvey Araton’s newspaper novel, Cold Type, which I made my #FridayReads this past weekend. I also want to add an observation that despite the continuing struggles of book publishing, it was actually quite an upbeat convention. Business has stabilized since the depths of the recession, and people are tired of feeling lousy, and talking as if the earth’s going to swallow us all. And, business has definitely gotten better in some areas. Also, many bookpeople I know were heartened this year by the fact that Amazon is taking it on the chin in many quarters of the press and in public opinion for their quarrel with Hachette over wholesale discount policies that the Seattle company is reportedly trying to dictate to the publisher. I don’t know when or how the standoff will end, but it makes many bookpeople, including me, feel good, or a bit better, to see the shine on Amazon’s reputation get tarnished a bit. With that, I’ll say I enjoyed I seeing many old friends, and making new ones at this year’s BEA. If you there were, dear reader, and we somehow didn’t bump in to each other, I hope you had a good convention, and I hope to see you next year. Here are many of the pictures Kyle and I took:

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February 1st, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Music, Bands & Radio; Philip Turner Book Productions

#FridayReads–Barry Lancet’s Thriller, “Japantown” & Dan Richter’s “The Dream is Over,” Memoir of the 60s

Japantown#FridayReads, Jan 31–Barry Lancet’s thriller, Japantown and Dan Richter’s The Dream is Over, a memoir of the 60s.

I’d made Japantown my #FridayReads last weekend, when I had read only about 140 pages of the nearly 400-page fast-paced international thriller. The rest of the book was every bit as riveting, and overall, hugely enjoyable. I liked it so much that, on Wednesday night, heading out to hear live music–I stowed the hardcover book in my knapsack, along with my handy bike flashlight–and read deep in to its last chapters between sets in the dimly lit music room at Pianos, inching toward the suspenseful climax which I reached the following morning. Here’s an abbreviated version of the plot rundown from my post last week:

“The book is at first set in San Francisco where protagonist Jim Brodie works as a dealer in Asian antiquities, while also maintaining connections with the private detective agency his late father founded and ran in Tokyo. Brodie’s widowed, a single dad living with his grade school-age daughter, Jenny. Brodie is the new go-to-guy when the San Francisco Police Department find itself investigating a grisly mass murder with Japanese victims and Japanese cultural characteristics. At the crime scene, Brodie finds only one clue, a paper artifact emblazoned with an obscure written character (kanji in Japanese). Brodie doesn’t realize, though the reader sees, that even as he surveys the scene of the brutal killing he and his Homicide Dept confidant are being surveilled with lenses and cameras by unknown agents. Though not understanding the full extent of the danger he’s in, Brodie senses he’s being watched, at his gallery and even at home with Jenny. With the obscure kanji in hand, Brodie undertakes an investigative trip to Japan, first putting Jenny in to the protective embrace of a police safe house. Once in Japan, the malign forces behind the killings begin taking aim at Brodie and his trusted Japanese colleagues.”

Good set-up, huh? Trust me, it’s much more exciting than my synopsis. After finishing Lancet’s totally satisfying thriller, I’m really excited he’s working on another book set in Jim Brodie’s world.

After finishing Japantown, I needed a nonfiction tonic and so picked up  The Dream is Over, Dan Richter’s personal account of London in the ’60s, his friendship with Yoko Ono and John Lennon, and his struggles with addiction. Richter’s book, released in hardcover in Britain in 2012, carries a Foreword by Yoko. I met Dan in the early 2000s, when I edited and published his first book Moonwatcher’s Memoir–A Diary of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dan was in his twenties, working as a mime actor, when Stanley Kubrick–searching for the right sort of performer to play the role of the marauding ape wielding a club in the opening scene of the 1968 intergalactic time travel epic–met Dan and cast him in the part. Working with Dan, I learned that he’d met Yoko in the ’60s through his theater work and her early works of performance art. Later, he would meet John Lennon through Yoko. His verbal accounts of those years were fascinating to hear about, so I’m delighted he’s written this second memoir. It focuses on 1969-73, when he was living in London, putting on poetry readings at the Albert Hall, and running with a literary set that included Alan Ginsberg, during his frequent visits to London, and Beat writer Alexander Trocchi, a bad-boy Scotsman who wrote Cain’s Book, a notorious and transgressive book in its time. Dan recently got in touch and asked if I might be able to help him find a US publisher for The Dream is Over, so I’m reading it as work and for the welcome evocation of a rich era that it paints. Characters who walk in and out of the narrative include Eric Clapton, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, the rebel psychiatrist R.D. Laing, members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I don’t know yet about the prospects for finding a US publisher, but I’m glad to be reading the book. I’ll try to post more about it once I’ve read more. The flap copy promises an intimate account of the making of the album “Imagine.”Moonwatcher's Memoir
Dream is Over

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January 28th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions

J. Michael Orenduff’s POT THIEF Mysteries on Sale Today from Open Road

J. Michael OrenduffReaders of this blog may recall that I’ve posted about author J. Michael Orenduff (l.), whom I represent as his literary agent. He’s written the delightful POT THIEF mystery series, which were an indie- and self-publishing success beginning in 2009. Last year I licensed the six-book series to Open Road Integrated Media for new ebook and paperback editions. I’m happy to post today that the new POT THIEF editions have just gone on sale from Open Road, whose site leads to all the major ebook and brick & mortar booksellers, such as  OverdriveGooglePlay; Indiebound and Amazon.

As a devoted mystery reader myself, I adored these books when I first read them in 2011. They’re set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring dealer in Native America pottery Hubie Schutz and his sidekick in sleuthing, wise-cracking Susannah Inchaustigui, a descendant of one of the region’s old-line Basque ranching families. They meet most afternoons at Hermanas Tortilleria, to sip margaritas and discuss their latest puzzler. After years running Undercover Books, a bookstore where I sold lots of mysteries, and as an editor publishing mysteries, I am especially excited that the many readers of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries, also set in the American Southwest, will now also be able to discover the POT THIEF books. In their earlier editions the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including Anne Hillerman, the late mystery master’s daughter who’s recently revived the bestsellerdom of her father’s series with her own book, Spider Woman’s Daughter, featuring Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito. Hillerman said this about the sixth POT THIEF book:

“I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Open Road, please note they have more than 3000 active titles, including five books by my longtime author Ruth Gruber, as well as titles by dozens of important authors such as William Styron, Rachel Carson, Andre Dubus, Sherman Alexie, and Mary Glickman, always in digital editions, and sometimes in print editions, too. They’ve been operating for about five years, innovating and growing along with the emerging ebook market. The company was profiled last year in a profile at paidcontent.org.

If I were still running a bookstore, I would urge all my mystery-loving customers to read the POT THIEF books. Please click here to see Open Road’s new covers with their uniform look.Enjoy!

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December 27th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions

A Basket Full of Holiday #FridayReads

PT #FridayReads photoDelighted to have so much free time this week for this terrific collection of great recreational and work-related reading. Here’s a quick rundown on each book with the tweets I put out about them tonight.
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My fave books by suspense writer Michael Connelly are his Harry Bosch novels, but the ones involving defense attorney Mickey Haller are enjoyable too.


Dave Bidini, longtime member of The Rheostatics, is a triple threat–stellar musician, compelling writer, and all-around good guy. I love oral histories like this one: the memorable voices of many musicians are soldered together in to an alternately hilarious and heartbreaking narrative of stalwarts traveling and playing music across one of the largest countries on the planet.


I admire CUNY Graduate Center Professor William Helmreich’s civic enterprise–he walked on nearly street in the five boroughs, meeting and speaking with hundreds of New Yorkers to weave together a fascinating portrait of the 21st century city enriched by new immigrant groups.


I’m hopeful that Chicago writer Haas’s suspense novels will merit rediscovery and publication. I was delighted to be asked to look at them by Shirley Haas and old Chicago friend Kevin Riordan.

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June 20th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Philip Turner Book Productions

An Exciting Rebranding for One of My Favorite Clients

As readers of this blog may have noticed, for more than a year I have run a paid promotion at the upper right corner of this website for Speakerfile, a tech company based in Toronto. They operate a web platform with smart software that connects conference organizers and meeting planners to authors and experts who speak in public. The ingenious software ensures powerful search capabilities, so speakers and experts are found readily by people eager to discover them. I think they run a great service, and so have really been proud to feature them prominently on my website, while also representing them to the book industry–publishers, authors, publicists, and literary agents. Having long described themselves as an expert visibility platform, it is therefore a natural evolution that has now led the company to officially rename themselves as Expertfile. In an announcement on their website company CEO Peter Evans says,

Switching our brand to ExpertFile underscores how we are aligning with a larger shift in the market. In working with organizations such as Cleveland Clinic, ADP, Constant Contact, [and] the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) . . . we've seen first-hand how content marketing and thought leadership has become a major priority. While speaking at industry conferences is important to thought leadership programs, it is only one dimension of how organizations build visibility and authority. Driving online engagement with their experts is proving to be essential to thought leadership. But most marketing departments lack the tools to unify and publish a yard sale of expert content—assets that remain fragmented across a variety of social and rich-media channels.

In a company press release Evans added, In working with thousands of experts and Fortune 500 organizations, we are discovering a major unmet need among even the largest of enterprise customers. Our move to ExpertFile is a natural evolution to a full enterprise platform that helps organizations promote and manage their expert content—to build visibility and authority in their industries without the complexity and drama of building custom applications.

In keeping with the change, their Twitter handle has changed to @ExpertFile, and they have a new ExpertFile Facebook page, which I invite you to 'like.' If you're interested in learning more about how the company operates and how they work with individuals and organizations, you can sign up for free online demos via this link. Their new logo is now in the promo on this site, and clicking on it will lead you directly to the Expertfile website. I'm really excited to see this dynamic client of mine evolving in exciting new directions, and I look forward to continuing to introduce to my book business contacts, old and new. If you'd like to know more about Expertfile, please let me know.

 

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May 28th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

The POT THIEF Mystery Series–Licensed to Open Road Integrated Media

I’m happy to announce that as literary agent for author J. Michael Orenduff, in conjunction with the Silver Bitela Agency, my company Philip Turner Book Productions recently licensed the six-book POT THIEF mystery series to Open Road Integrated Media, a major player in digital publishing. The books, previously self-published by Mr. Orenduff, are The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier, The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid. They will all be published by Open Road in print and digital editions beginning in 2014.

As a devoted mystery reader myself, I adore the POT THIEF books and have earlier written about them here. They are set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring dealer in Native America pottery Hubie Schutz and his sidekick in sleuthing, wise-cracking Susannah Inchaustigui, a descendant of one of the region’s old-line Basque ranching families. They meet most afternoons at Hermanas Tortilleria, to sip margaritas and discuss their latest puzzler. After years running Undercover Books, a bookstore where I sold lots of mysteries, and as an editor publishing mysteries, I know the mystery market well and am particularly excited that the many readers of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries, also set in the American Southwest, will now also be able to discover the POT THIEF books. In their earlier editions, the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including this one from Anne Hillerman, the late mystery master’s daughter: “I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Open Road, I suggest you visit their website. They have more than 3000 active titles, including five books by my longtime author Ruth Gruber, as well as titles by dozens of important authors such as William Styron, Rachel Carson, Andre Dubus, and Mary Glickman, always in digital editions, and sometimes in print editions, too. They’ve been operating for three years, innovating and growing along with the emerging ebook market. The company was recently profiled in an excellent piece via this link at paidcontent.org. 

I’m delighted for my author J. Michael Orenduff and also very pleased to be working with Ed Silver and Babz Bitela of the Silver Bitela Agency, who are representing the POT THIEF brand for film and TV rights. In fact, they are already sharing with producers an excellent screenplay based on the series, written by previously credited screenwriter, Robert C. Powers.  Announcements of the deal I made with Open Road have appeared in Publishers Weekly and in PublishersMarketplace.com, both of which mention the Silver Bitela Agency (these may only be available by subscription so I’ve made screenshots of both to be sure they can be read by GGB readers). Happy I could share this great news the same week as Book Expo America (BEA), the book industry’s annual convention, taking place at NYC’s Javits Center May 30-June 1. Please click here to see deal coverage from the two book industry outlets.

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February 22nd, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Remembering Edward Robb Ellis, Feb. 22, 1911-Labor Day, 1998

[Editor's Note, Feb. 22, 2013: The post below is a revised version of a piece I published on Feb. 22, 2012, the last anniversary of Edward Robb Ellis's birthday.]

Book business friends who’ve known me for some years may recall that I’ve been extremely fortunate in working with remarkable authors of advanced age. There’s the distinguished photojournalist Ruth Gruber, who turned 102 on her last birthday, with whom I’ve had the privilege of publishing six books over the past decade and a half, including Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman–a republication of Ruth’s 1931 seminal thesis on Woolf, the first feminist reading of the author, written before she’d become an international icon–and Exodus 1947: The Ship that Launched a Nation and Ahead of Time: My Early Years as a Foreign Correspondent. Ruth’s still going strong, with a bio-documentary out on her, also called “Ahead of Time.”

Another author I began working with who was then in their eighties was Edward Robb Ellis, who like Ruth Gruber, was born in 1911. In 1985, Ellis was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific diarist in the history of American letters. By the time I met Eddie in the early 90s he had already published tremendously readable narrative histories, A Nation in Torment: The Great American Depression, 1929-39; Echoes of Distant Thunder: Life in the United States, 1914-1918; and one his adopted hometown, The Epic of New York City**. In 1995 I published his magnum opus, A Diary of the Century: Tales from American’s Greatest Diarist, with an Introduction by Pete Hamill, based on the diary Eddie began keeping in 1927 at age sixteen, which he kept faithfully until the year of his death seventy-one years later. This is part of the flap copy I wrote for a 2008 reissue of the book:

Press credentials granted the eagle-eyed Ellis a front-row seat to many major events of the twentieth century, and he captures them with candor and verve, in a vivid pictorial style–whether covering politicians like Huey Long, move stars and performers such as Grace Kelly and Paul Robeson, or history-making news events, including the creation of of the United Nations. He recounts his encounter with the legendarily witty Mae West–whose press agent turns out to be feeding lines to her. He chronicles a new Orleans jazz joint where he interviews a talented young trumpeter named Louis Armstrong. He writes of taking long strolls with Harry Truman, and of observing Senator Joseph McCarthy for the first time (“His mouth is thin and long, like a knife-gash in a melon.”).
Born in Kewanee, Illinois (“Hog Capitol of the World”), Ellis moved to New York City in 1947, and lovingly documents the city’s cosmopolitanism and post-war ebullience. The sparkle in Ellis’s writing comes not solely from his meetings with the rich and famous, but from his attentiveness to, and enjoyment of, everyday life. In Ellis’s own words, this is “not a record of world deeds, mighty achievements, conquests” but “the drama of the unfolding life of one individual, day after day after day.”

When I published the book with Eddie on Labor Day in 1995, we scored a rare kind of hat trick, booking interviews on all three network morning shows. Matt Lauer interviewed him on the TODAY Show, Cokie Roberts on “Good Morning America,” and Harry Smith on CBS’s “Early Show.” It was clear that Eddie’s status as a reporter from journalism’s golden age–or at least what morning show hosts and producers believed had been a golden age–had endeared him to them. I have videos of those appearances, but unfortunately haven’t transferred them to the Web and they are not on youtube. Picture Eddie wearing a red neckerchief with a khaki safari jacket and looking very dashing on TV.

In the 2008 reissue of A Diary of the Century I included an Editor’s Note explaining that at even 200,000 words and more than 600 pages, the book had constituted less than 1% of the entire Ellis Diary. A reference book aficionado, Eddie was fond of saying that his whole diary clocked in at more than 20,000,000 words, or roughly half the length of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. My Note explained that in his later years Eddie arranged for the Ellis Diary to find

“a permanent home with the Fales Library of New York University. Indeed, even before the last day of his life–which arrived on Labor Day 1998, so fitting for a man who always called himself a ‘working stiff’–more than five dozen oversize bound volumes, were hauled from his Chelsea apartment to the Greenwich Village campus of NYU. . . . It was my privilege to read into those bound volumes of the Ellis Diary, and I promise the reader that I found no dross there. With this revival, on behalf of Eddie’s literary executor Peter Skinner and literary representative Rita Rosenkranz, I take this opportunity to state that it is our intention to revive interest in A Diary of the Century, and then go on to create new books drawn from the Ellis Diary.”

With the possibilities afforded by the Internet clearer than ever, the above goal remains high among my personal priorities. Though Eddie was suspicious of new technology, and the World Wide Web was still new when he died, A Diary of the Century, with every entry  bearing the date he wrote it, will lend itself beautifully to blogging someday; in fact, it’d be fair to say that Eddie was a kind of proto-blogger before the term was known. In addition to this recollection of Eddie, I have posted a selection of readings from his diary, and here’s a link to a recent story I wrote about Eddie’s work with Letts of London, the diary publisher who’ve been selling blank journals since 1796.

** After publishing A Diary of the Century in 1995 I also republished the three backlist books by Ellis named above. The Epic of New York City has had more than ten printings since then.

 

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February 22nd, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet; Philip Turner Book Productions; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Readings from “A Diary of the Century” by Edward Robb Ellis

[Editor's Note, Feb. 22, 2013: The post below is a revised version of a piece I published on Feb. 22, 2012, the last anniversary of Edward Robb Ellis's birthday.]

Entries from A Diary of the Century by Edward Robb Ellis, about whom I blogged earlier today, on the occasion of what would have been his 102nd birthday, February 22.

Monday, October 5, 1931 This morning I got a letter from Mother saying that the First National Bank of Kewanee has closed. That’s the bank that has every cent I own. Mother also said that Grandpa Robb had all of his money there, and now Grandma is worried to death. Many of the people in Kewanee stood in front of the closed doors of the bank, weeping and cursing. One of Mother’s women friends ran up and down our street, bewailing the fact that her family has lost everything. . . . Here I am at age 20–absolutely penniless.

University of Missouri, Sunday, January 3, 1932 Today I saw my first bread line–200 starving men forming a gray line as they waited for food. The sight of them disturbed me.

Saturday, January 9. 1932 Nace Strickland is the best room mate one could have. Today he told me something that happened when he was a child. Raised in St. Louis, he didn’t know much about country life, so he was excited when two of his aunts took him for a drive on back roads. In one pasture he saw a bull mounting a cow, whereupon Nace exclaimed: “Hey, I didn’t know those things could milk themselves.”

Kewanee, Illinois, Saturday, June 11, 1932 Last night I dreamed I held my diary under a shower and was delighted when the words did not wash off. Does this mean I think my diary may make me “immortal?”

Monday, February 19, 1934 Some of my favorite songs: My Silent Love . . . Lullaby of the Leaves . . . I’ve Got the South in My Soul . . . Time on My Hands . . . Old Rockin’ Chair . . . Piccalo Pete . . . Harmonica Harry . . . I Kiss Your Hand, Madame . . . Somebody Loves Me . . . I Surrender, Dear . . . Body and Soul . . . All of Me . . . You’re My Everything . . . Mona Lisa . . . The Man I Love . . . What Wouldn’t I Do That for Man . . . Mood Indigo. / / more . . .

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