What is the what in publishing? How funny is Anne Lamott? And Alyson Hagy: thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012




New York City was at its hospitable best yesterday.  Through the windows of a train I watched the sun both rise and set on Manhattan.  In between I opined on the future of YA at the Publishing Perspectives Conference, saw old friends (Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Jennifer Brown, Laura Geringer, Melissa Sarno, Dennis Abrams, Ed Nawotka), made new ones, did a little Amen shout as Doris Janhsen, David Levithan, Francine Lucidon, Eliot Schrefer, and Dennis Abrams (pictured above), reminded people what publishing is really about, or should be about:  good books.  By mid-afternoon, I was sitting with the remarkable team at Gotham, discussing the future of Handling the Truth.  I was thinking—truth—how lucky I am.  (Then got even luckier sneaking in a little stolen time with Jessica Shoffel of Philomel and my own son, at 30th Street Station.)

It took every bit of driving craftswomanship I have (and there isn't much) to get to Anne Lamott's talk (and promotion of her new book on prayer, Help Thanks Wow) at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church by the 7:30 start.  My father had saved a seat for me in the balcony, and a lucky thing that was, for there were at least 1,000 people gathered in this church where I grew up, wed, and baptized my son.  Anne does what I cannot do.  Talks without a plan ("I have prepared nothing," she began), works her way toward a theme, gets grace right out there, where it belongs, and triggers a bout of group hysteria with a single word (Okay) and a prop (my father's pen).

And so we laughed.  And so it was ten before I finally got home, after a day that had begun at 3 AM.  The mail had been brought in.  There was a card, the smart, precise handwriting of an amazing writer whom I love.  Alyson Hagy, you of the million things to do, you of the bad bronchitis, Good Lord, girl, you didn't have to.  But I love this from you.  I will treasure it, always.

8 comments:

KFP said...

What a day! I wish I could have been there to hear Anne Lamott. I have heard her before, and yes she is rollickingly funny plus full of beautiful insights about life.

For the record I also want to say I am a huge fan of Rahna Reiko Rizzuto and her book, Hiroshima in the Morning, thanks to your bringing her work to my attention via this blog. Which now reminds me I have been meaning to get a copy of and read her other book. So, thanks for that.

Katrina said...

Love this Beth. Hope you're cozied up today, going nowhere, savoring the memory of yesterday.

patti.mallett_pp said...

Oh my, quite a day. The kind dreams are made of. Ending with Anne Lamott? In that church?

"No way."

"Way!!!"

Voracious Reader said...

It was such a treat to meet you in person at the Publishing Perspectives event. I can't wait to see your keynote speech on video - SO moving,so brave. Many Amens muttered here.

Joanne Fritz said...

I adore Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD so much, I can imagine how fun and funny she must be in person.

You had one busy day, girl! Hope you got some sleep.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Wow!!! What more can I say? :-)

Lilian Nattel said...

I'm so glad you had a good trip. It sounds amazing just hearing about it.

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