book news

New Book Awards Category Announced

Posted in book news on April 1st, 2011 by admin – Comments Off on New Book Awards Category Announced

AF Wire: 4/1/11

The Northern California Book Awards chair, Joyce Jenkins, has just announced a new book award category: Nonfiction by Diminutive Writers (“Dim Writers” for short).

The NCBA was inspired to create these new sub-awards because of nominations this year for two books published by Dims: Aftershock, by Robert Reich, and Maid as Muse, by Aífe Murray.

This “exciting development,” noted Ms. Jenkins by email, recognizes that “smaller stature writers have challenges” that make writing and publishing a book a taller order.

For example, smaller writers have a harder time reaching the tops of their desks.

Due to leg aches (from dangling feet when seated), it is a surprising, but nonetheless wonderful, achievement that any Dim Writer is able to sit long enough to move beyond mastery of Flash Fiction or the Short Short Story.

This is to say nothing of Dims minding Ps and Qs given their location on the outer lands of a QWERTY keyboard.

NCBA Dim Writer nominee Aífe Murray pointed out that her book wouldn’t have qualified last year. “I was too tall” but now, measuring in at 5 foot, she is “grateful to gravity or aging” for making possible her book’s nomination.

One can imagine Tiger Mothers of the future holding back on hormone growth therapy or speeding the onset of menarche if their preschoolers show any literary promise.

In short, NCBA’s new award category has truly busted the mezzanine ceiling for all Dim Writers.

This week, representatives of NCBA and The New Yorker are hammering out an arrangement whereby excerpts from winning Dim works will appear in a series tentatively titled “Five Under Five” (a send down of their “40 Under 40” fiction series).

One New Yorker editor posited, sotto voce, that, if successful, this could lead to a sub sub set of the magazine’s humor writing competition — or a “Dim Wit Prize.” Ms. Jenkins could not be reached for comment.

The Northern California Book Awards will be held on Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m. in Koret Auditorium, in the San Francisco Public Library.The NCBA is handled Oscars style. May the best writer under five feet win. On second thought, at NCBA, all Dim Writers shine.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noted this posting’s date…

Nominees Announced

Posted in book news on March 14th, 2011 by admin – Comments Off on Nominees Announced

These five general non-fiction books (or General Verity Books as Richard Rhodes would have it)  have been nominated for the Northern California Book Awardswinning title to be announced Oscars style on April 10 at the San Francisco Public Library:

Winner-Take-All Politics:
How Washington Made the Rich Richer
—And Turned
Its Back on the Middle Class
Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Simon & Schuster

The Big Short:
Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis
W. W. Norton

Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed
Emily Dickinson’s Life and Language
Aífe Murray
University Press of New England

Aftershock: The Next Economy
and America’s Future
Robert B. Reich
Alfred A. Knopf

The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges,
New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World
Without Nuclear Weapons
Richard Rhodes
Alfred A. Knopf

Northern Californa Book Awards!

Posted in book news on March 1st, 2011 by admin – Comments Off on Northern Californa Book Awards!

I am delighted to tell you that Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson’s Life and Language has been nominated for the Northern California Book Award in General Nonfiction as one of the best works by a northern California author published in 2010. Congratulations!” writes Joyce Jenkins, chair of the Northern California Book Reviewers.

This nomination puts a spotlight on Margaret Maher, Amos Newport, Eliza Thompson, Horace Church, Rosina Mack and their many fellow servants – & how unseen and undervalued people play vital roles in the making of culture.

The 30th Annual Northern California Book Awards will be held Sunday, April 10, 2011, at Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin, at Grove, at 1:00 p.m.

Immediately following the awards, a public reception with book signing for all of the nominated books will begin in the Latino/Hispanic Room at the Library.

The event draws an enthusiastic audience, all focused on celebrating books and writers in northern California.

(As a nominee, I’ll be trotted onto the stage and if Maid as Muse wins I’ll read briefly.)

The awards are being held at the SFPL where the idea for Maid as Muse was first seeded & in the same room where the book received its San Francisco launch last April – sponsored by the Library and its African American Center (the audience of 55 wonderful people came out at 10:30 on a Saturday morning. Stalwarts!).

If you are reading this, consider it your invitation to attend!

Happy Birthday MaM

Posted in book news on February 11th, 2011 by admin – Comments Off on Happy Birthday MaM

Maid as Muse is one year old.

Remember how adorable one year olds are? Taking first steps on those sea legs, grinning with accomplishment. Proud to be upright.

It’s kind of like that for my book Maid as Muse.

Weathering the fickleness of the market place but still holding firmly to five stars on Amazon.

Beaming from the recent highly quote-able review: “lyricist of the material world” and so on…

Once a couple hundred more books slide past the register

it’s on to paperback –

Yes, turning 1 is grand

North by Northwest

Posted in book news on December 20th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on North by Northwest

Does proximity to the raw materials of book-making result in folks from the Pacific Northwest being more excited by the end product?

Here’s what I learned in Washington and Oregon:

If you’ve got a new book to promote

Go northwest young writer –

Celebrating Emily Dickinson’s birthday – in Seattle, Portland & Eugene – public library rooms were warmed by large and enthusiastic crowds.

Or were they just 115 random people seeking shelter from winter storms?

If yes, Pacific Northwesters are quick studies with astute questions.


Chris Higashi of the Washington Center for the Book & Seattle Public Library

Karen Maeda Allman from the awesome Elliott Bay Books (poetry section anchors the store & Cafe Presse is right around the corner & Crumpet Shop not far…)

Portland Central Library‘s Mary Bush (got to love those food carts)

Scott Herron of Eugene’s library (Cafe Soriah & Morning Glory Cafe are my bets)

AND the patrons of these NW libraries!

Harry Koch

We were graced, in Portland, with the presence of Harry Koch and his wife Rose. Mr. Koch is the great grandson of  Tom Kelley who was pretty important to ED. For her self-authored funeral she chose Tom as chief pallbearer.

Seattle, Portland, Eugene wood rock

Emily’s Maid Ruled Like Facebook

Posted in book news on October 13th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on Emily’s Maid Ruled Like Facebook

Burn poems? No way!

There are at least 7 big reasons why we owe a debt to the domestic servants who worked for the poet Emily Dickinson.

The reasons range from getting Emily out of the kitchen – so she could write more – to archiving the poems and ultimately saving the poems from destruction.

Funny thing: Emily, on her deathbed, asked her sister to burn the letters she had received over the years. She instructed her maid, Margaret Maher, to burn her poems that were stored in her maid’s trunk.

It turns out that getting Margaret Maher to burn poems is like getting Mark Zuckerberg to take down your Facebook page.

Maybe we’ll be glad some day that Facebook wouldn’t budge – we can certainly be grateful that Margaret Maher prevailed.

And those 7 reasons why we are indebted to Emily’s maid?

I’ll be ticking off those reasons in St. Louis and Louisville on Oct 19 & 20

The Wed & Thurs before Halloween I’ll be in San Francisco and Redwood City.

In December we’ll celebrate Emily’s 180th birthday in Seattle, Portland, and Eugene.

Then it’s home for the holidays – speaking of, Maid as Muse makes a great gift.

Carmichael’s, Elliot Bay or Kepler’s Books will be happy to ship you signed copies!

Pull pages?!?

House Without a Maid – Rotterdam

Posted in book news on September 5th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on House Without a Maid – Rotterdam

Dateline: Rotterdam 23-26 September 2010

To Serve

Deserve – performance

Vous êtes Servis film

House without a Maid –  art installations

House without a Maid –  the talks

  • What does it mean to be a woman who cleans the home of another woman?
  • And what does it mean to be that other woman?

I will participate in a multidisciplinary project about domestic labor called To Serve, produced by the Rotterdam Schouwburg, and co-hosted by the Netherlands Architecture Institute and Lantaren Venster Theater, as part of the Schouwburg’s 2010 International Theater Festival.

To Serve was conceived by the artist/choreographer Simone Aughterlony and the film artist Jorge León. In part it uses human trafficking & the plight of Indonesian maids to approach the current state of domestic service and the maid-mistress dyad.

I’ll make a presentation in the Sonneveld House — an avant-garde home in Rotterdam built in 1933, now an architectural monument – looking at the House as a servant site and the place of the maid in its history. I’ll talk about place and intimacy and influences using as an example the relationship between Margaret Maher & Emily Dickinson.

Sonneveld House will also serve as the site for two afternoons – 25 and 26 September from 2-5 pm – of informal interviews, discussions, and presentations. I’ll be part of the Saturday panel of sociologists, historians, activists and union organizers, legal experts, filmmakers, domestic workers and their employers, anthropologists, artists, writers, and gender studies scholars.

The To Serve project, which is touring several cities in Europe, consists of Deserve, a performance, Vous êtes Servis, a film about the exploitation of Indonesian maids, and “House Without a Maid,” a group of art/performance installations in Huis Sonneveld.

If you are in within hiking distance of Rotterdam….

Summer Sale!!!

Posted in book news on August 23rd, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on Summer Sale!!!

Maid as Muse is 30% off in a sale that ends August 30.

Order direct from the publisher using coupon code DM121W

Only $24.50 if you act by the 30th!
We’ll arrange a signing of your copy at an upcoming event so sign up on the MaM FB page

Reading Vacation

Posted in book news on August 1st, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on Reading Vacation

I’m off doing some summer reading

Maira Kalman

-Jim Goldberg’s Open See –

Making notes on what it stimulates.

Even writing some reviews.

When you finish Maid as Muse

You could help future readers by

Submitting your response…

(I’ll follow summer reads with

-the last Bronx grapes

-and first Macouns)

Your Public Library & Chain Migration

Posted in book news on July 20th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off on Your Public Library & Chain Migration

Is writing a book a function of a kind of book-chain-migration?

Maid as Muse came about because of a visit to my local public library.

I happened upon a Dickinson biography on the library shelves. Inside was a photograph of three servants. Seeing that image changed my life.

Writing Maid as Muse is the result of serendipity – of asking a question to which Richard Sewall‘s biography of Emily Dickinson gave a first answer.

Would stumbling upon a copy of Maid as Muse at your library alter someone’s life? What book will come from the next serendipitous link?

Ask your local library to order Maid as Muse for the collection. See what happens…

I just visited the Eugene Public Library, in Oregon, and Librarian Scott Herron placed an order for Maid as Muse while we spoke!

A fall tour is in motion – my fall migration through the Midwest and Northwest – so be in touch if you want me to wax on Emily Dickinson & “the help” at your book club, superstore, library, museum, classroom etc.