Friday, August 27, 2004

Book giveaway blog.

Finally, it feels something like summer here: warm and humid. But this mostly cool summer seems to have had an effect on the trees, who are now ahead of the game. Today I noticed tinges of yellow and red on a few trees along my route to the train station, including at least one sizable oak.

Not only was it warm, but I also encountered some enormous clouds of gnats on my way home this afternoon, mostly rising out of the wildflower restoration slopes near the Springinsguth Road/Elgin-O’Hare Expressway junction. On the other hand, maybe I just imagined a sign that said that it was a wildflower restoration area, since it’s gone now. Back in July, when the flowers on the slope were really going gangbusters, large machines came one day and decimated them. A change in policy? A municipal lawn crew that misunderstood its instructions? Oops! Might as well take down the sign, too.

Got an unusual freebie at the train station today. A book. “Read it and talk about it,” said one of the college kids, or college-aged kids, who were passing it out. They were giving away advance copies of a thing called Wild Animus, which, according to the blurbs, is a “provocative debut novel [in which] a young man rejects a normal life to follow a wild, inner calling. That isn’t quite what he imagined, so then he goes back to school for a master’s in creative writing.”

Well, I added that second sentence myself. More interesting than the blurbs are the economic facts of the book, which are right on the back, under the breathless description of the plot. Fifty-thousand copies on its first printing. A seven-city national tour, including Fairbanks and Anchorage, since the book seems to be set mostly in Alaska. A $450,000 marketing budget, including giving copies away, no doubt. Maybe that’s chump change in book publishing, but I’m impressed. Someone –- the imprint says Too Far –- thinks this book is going to sell some copies, at $19.95 U.S. and $24.95 Canadian. ($20 for a paperback!)

Will I get around reading it, or at least starting it? Maybe. It doesn’t really look like my kind of story. My train book at the moment, on the other hand, is. Gates of Fire is an historical novel about the battle of Thermopylae. Compare and contrast. Novel A: Disillusioned with American civilization at the zenith of its wealth and power, a young whiner goes to the wilderness to be authentic. Novel B: A detailed and gripping account of an astonishingly brutal war in Antiquity whose outcome reverberates even now.


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