Friday, April 11, 2008

Touch 'Em All, Tom Swift

Griff has posted a few photographs from Tom Swift's reading last night at Monkey See, Monkey Read. If you click the first photo, you'll see the back of my curly red head, sitting next to local poet Karen Herseth Wee. Tom's been getting in a few innings lately, promoting his book at venues ranging from the local bookstores to the concourse of the Metrodome. His presentation last night—part reading, part informal lecture, part Q&A—was very well done. He read interesting and illustrative short excerpts from the book, and talked engagingly about the life of Charles Bender in a way that whetted the audience's appetite to read the book. And there were excellent bars to eat. It sounds like the book will appeal not only to baseball fans, but also to general readers who want a great story about a remarkable man who achieved greatness despite the constant burden of racial prejudice. It sounds like a great American story. The review in Booklist says: "In Swift’s hands, Bender’s life unfolds gradually, as though he were a character in a novel, and the prejudice he experienced, though never justified, is set within the context of the times." The reviewer calls the book "carefully researched — and documented — as well as stylishly written..."

After the reading, Tom graciously signed a copy of the book for me. Tom's a great guy, and I think I managed to hide my professional jealousy of his success. A few years ago, he and I were in a short-lived nonfiction writing group together. We met a few times for coffee and good discussion about our current writing projects—including Chief Bender's Burden. Since then, I've published three or four essays in literary journals—but here was Tom with a full-length hardcover book published by the University of Nebraska Press! The big leagues! His example—the work ethic that turned his talent as a writer into success as a published author—is almost enough to make me cancel my afternoon nap.


Shan said...

I'm pretty sure all famous people take afternoon naps. It's practically a requirement!

Jim H. said...

The afternoon nap is a luxury you should enjoy without the slightest tinge of guilt. I seem to recall that Twain was a napper. And maybe Shaw.

tom said...

I was so happy you walked through the door, Rob. Thanks for coming. Thanks for buying a copy. And thanks for this generous post!

I don't know about the habits of famous people, but I do know I wouldn't have finished the book without many afternoon snoozes.

Christopher Tassava said...

"Short-lived nonfiction writing group." If this gets revived, I want in. I've got some grant proposals that will blow your socks off. (Actually, I would love to do some non-academic, non-professional writing, and would love an excuse/impetus to do it.)

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .