Thursday, June 30, 2011

Printing Arts Fair in North Andover, MA

Bright and early this past Father’s day morning, this daughter set out for North Andover, MA. I’ll admit I was a little hesitant about my destination, given that it was directly across an area known as First Burying Ground that hosted all sorts of tales. Most luckily, I met neither witch nor foe. Instead, a hot sun, clear skies, and the fresh cut lawns of North Andover bid me welcome.

Fellow intern, John, met me at the annual Printing Arts Fair at The Museum of Printing. We set up our table on the second floor of the museum and watched book arts enthusiasts filter in and out, enjoying the numerous interesting exhibitors. Our exhibit featured several different books that we had a feeling might be of interest to the guests of the Printing Arts Fair. Many families stopped to chat about how they were quite familiar with a few of our books and perused some of our more recent titles. A lucky raffle winner won a copy of Personal Impressions: The Small Printing Press in Nineteenth-Century America by Elizabeth M. Harris.

Some guest favorites at our table included Lettered Creatures by Brad Leithauser, The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander Lawson, and Bibliotopia: Or Mr. Gilbar’s Book of Books & Catch-all of Literary Facts and Curiosities by Steven Gilbar.

Unfortunately our exhibit being on the second floor meant we were missing out on all the fun outside, so John and I took turns exploring other parts of the building and checking out the booths outside the front of the museum. I was initially surprised by the number of young children in tow at the fair but soon discovered there were demonstration tables set up for all ages to enjoy, giving many visitors the opportunity to print. This was very exciting to see, as many conversations that occurred at our table seemed to include the phrases “a dying art,” “kids these days,” and “I remember when.” One of the main goals of the fair appeared to be engaging young children, which is certainly of key importance when considering educating all ages on the history of printing and introducing the refined beauty of book arts.

We’re pleased to have attended the fair and been given the opportunity to share our books with true printing aficionados!

To visit The Museum of Printing, visit their website for hours and admission information.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We're looking for Fall interns!

Interested in learning the inner workings of an established independent book publishing house in downtown Boston? Do you want exposure and experience to everything from editing and proofreading to sales/marketing and production projects?

If so, we're looking for a few excellent interns for the Fall!

Godine offers general internships designed to expose students and recent graduates to the full range of operations of an independent publishing house. In addition to general office administration (mail, phones, etc.) interns work with our staff on a daily basis on tasks in all departments: editorial, publicity, marketing & sales, and production. Beyond that, interns are generally assigned a long-range project that is tied more closely to a specific title on our list.

While preference is given to candidates with an interest in editorial work, students with an interest in the business side of publishing are encouraged to apply. We are looking for people with strong basic office skills (Word, Excel, FileMaker Pro), and good basic proofreading and editorial skills. Experience with graphic arts software (Quark, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator) is welcome but is not a prerequisite. We require a minimum commitment of 20 hours a week for 3-4 months. Internships are unpaid. A writing sample is unnecessary.

Applications for fall internships are due by July 15. Please send your resume and cover letter (by post) to our new address:

David R. Godine, Publisher
Fifteen Court Square, Suite 320
Boston, MA 02108

No phone calls or emails, please.

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Jactation n. Boasting, bragging. A specialized – indeed highly specialized – variant is jactitation, as in "jactitation of a marriage": falsely putting it about that you are married to a particular person. Both words may be of use in wedding reception speechmaking, but the author leaves the specifics of this to the reader.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Jactation appears in the First.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel in the Boston Globe!

A thank you goes to Jan Gardner at the Boston Globe for the Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America mention yesterday:

Now comes the story of another unlikely pair of art collectors. Like Herb and Dorothy, the Cone sisters learned about art as they collected. Yet coming from a wealthy family, they didn’t bother with a budget. Still, Etta and Claribel Cone spent their money wisely. They bought what they liked, and what they liked was works by Henri Matisse, with whom they became friends.

The sisters’ taste in art was impeccable. Their collection — including 500 Matisses and 2,500 works by Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin, and others — was bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art when Etta died in 1949.

This summer the legacy of the Cone sisters is being highlighted in a new book and exhibit. Susan Fillion, who teaches drawing at the Baltimore Museum of Art, has written and illustrated “Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America’’ (Godine). Growing up in Baltimore, Fillion learned of the globetrotting sisters who bonded with fellow Baltimore residents Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo over their mutual love of art.

With her book, Fillion hopes to introduce a younger generation to these sisters who, in following their bliss, amassed an important art collection. Readers will recognize many of the paintings reproduced in Fillion’s book, reproductions likely to stir an interest in seeing the originals. That can be done at “Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore’’ at the Jewish Museum in New York City through Sept. 25.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Susan Fillion's Event in Cambridge

Another wonderful event by Susan Fillion to celebrate the publication of her book Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America! Last Tuesday Susan came to town and gave her packed audience at the Porter Square Bookstore in Cambridge a mini-course in modern art, complete with slides. To call the event a reading would be misleading—Susan does not so much read from her book as entertain, delight, and instruct. A natural speaker, and trained docent, she leads you to her book indirectly, so that the real treat, the book itself, still awaits you, beckoning beneath its jewel-colored jacket.

A big thanks to Jory Hearst, Susan’s niece and a Porter Square Books employee, for helping to make the event such a success, and to all those who came from near and far (including Eva, Susan’s daughter, whose surprise visit made her day)!

Photos from the event:

Susan Fillion with her editor at Godine (and the author of this post), Susan Barba

Fillion with David R. Godine

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Slubber v. To smear or dirty something, or to wallow in something. Three-year-olds and politicians are good slubberers.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Slubber appears in the Second.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reading: An Historical Perspective

I'm a fiction writer. I believe in fiction writing—through most of my reading life, it's been stories that have brought me meaning—but my favorite writer today is not a fiction writer, he's an historian. I don't see a paradox between the professional fabricator (fiction writer) and the presumed truth teller (historian). They borrow from one another. The fiction writer uses what he knows of facts and real events and incorporates them into his imagination. The historian weaves together original and secondary source materials into a readable structure to produce compelling characters, story lines of interest, and narratives that move through time. When I remember The Guns of August and A Distant Mirror by that great writer, Barbara W. Tuchman, these historical texts appear in my memory like novels.

Even in grade school I had a sensibility for the past. One of my friends, Mike Saunders, had an interest in the Depression, and we would have long discussions about life in the old days. Saturday afternoons I would go to the movies—Westerns, mainly. I knew the shows were pretty much bullshit, but the idea of the West—wide open spaces, rugged individualism, firearms worn at the hip, and no Catholics and hence no Sunday mass (or so I thought) seemed like pretty good living to me. I loved war movies, especially the wars from ancient times. I see from all the video games these days that boys still do love wars. War lite is fun. Real war, not so fun.

I've written one historical novel, The Old American. It was a hard book to write (they're all hard to write) but reading the books necessary to familiarize myself with a time period was great fun. There's something about knowing you're going to write a book that sharpens your reading, gives it dimension, so that unlike leisure-reading the content stays with you in great detail and satisfies in a deeper way.

My reading of history continues to influence my writing and my world view. One of my favorite books is A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of French Acadians from Their American Homeland by John Mack Faragher. The author writes about the Acadians being deported from their lands in Nova Scotia in 1755. Many of them died. Some found their way to Louisiana. Today their descendants are known as Cajuns. My ancestors in old Acadia escaped "Le Grand Derangement" and settled in Quebec, moving to New Hampshire in the early 20th century. Faragher's book gave me information and moral support in the writing of my new novel, Never Back Down, which will be published in September.

The historian who has had the most profound effect on my understanding of what it means to be an American and my favorite writer today is David Hackett Fischer, author of Champlain's Dream, Washington's Crossing, Paul Revere's Ride, and Albion's Seed. America can not be summarized in one nor even a dozen books, but if I had to pick a book that best represents us as a people it would be Albion's Seed. Should it be required reading? Of course not. Once you require someone to read something they'll secretly or overtly hate that book and its author for the rest of their lives. It's a weird world we live in, and it's the job the fiction writers and the historians to try to make sense of it or, failing in that enterprise, entertain us.

Hebert lives in New Hampshire and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. His novels in­clude The Old American and the acclaimed six-volume Darby series. Godine will publish his forthcoming novel, Never Back Down, in September 2011.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Tregetour n. A magician or juggler. In modern terms, a tax accountant.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Tregetour appears in the Second.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Profile - Ernest Hebert

We've been featuring essays on fiction writing by Ernest Hebert on the blog over the last few months. Hebert lives in New Hampshire and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. Godine will publish his new novel, Never Back Down, in September 2011.

NH's Keene Sentinel published a profile on Hebert over the weekend:

Hebert’s stories are subtly funny, character-driven dramas of New England life. The plot of one Darby book — according to its dust jacket — revolves around a special town meeting on a proposal to build a shopping mall.

But if the stories are mundane, the themes are as lofty as they come.

“Religion, race and class — what else is there, really?” Hebert asks.

Hebert grew up on Oak Street in Keene and applied to Keene State in high school. But his test scores were so bad, he says, he didn’t get in. He worked for the phone company for several years before reapplying to Keene State, where he studied history and English in his late 20s.

Asked who he writes for, Herbert seems to dismiss the idea anyone would read his books.

“I write about working people, but I write in a literary style,” he says. “If I thought about audience I wouldn’t have written the books that I did, or I wouldn’t have written at all.”

From the Q&A "At a Glance" with Hebert:

How do you feel about being compared to William Faulkner?

Answer: “I hate being compared to William Faulkner — this kind of uppity, snooty southerner with his turgid prose based more or less on the Bible. I can’t bear to read Faulkner. It makes me want to puke, and you can quote me on all that. I just loathe Faulkner’s writing.”

Why do you write?

Answer: “It’s my way of thinking. I can only go so far when I think, and I realize that there’s so much more to understand about the world. So writing is my entry point to these mysteries of understanding. . . . I love language, I love words, I love to put them together. There’s a beauty to it; I love to play with words.”

Read the rest of the profile here.

Susan Fillion at The Children's Bookstore

On Wednesday, June 1st, Godine author Susan Fillion had a reading at The Children's Bookstore in Baltimore, MD for her new book Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America. She was kind enough to write up the event and provide photos:

At 4:30pm it was close to one hundred degrees outside and the A/C in The Children’s Bookstore was straining to keep up. Besides Jo Fruchtman (the owner, who introduced me to David Godine) and her small staff, there were three visitors – one of whom was my mother. Not a particularly august beginning for my first bookstore reading.

Fifteen minutes later, a group of about twenty-five had materialized, filling the small space and feeling very cozy. I sat on a large shelf in front of the wall of books Jo had arranged and began. It was easier than I had thought – just like chatting with a group of friends in the living room.

The Cone Sisters are, of course, famous around here, so I was preaching to the converted. Toward the close of my remarks, a lively discussion evolved, continuing into the actual book signing afterwards. Lots of people around here claim Cone lineage, or have friends and acquaintances who actually were related. Sitting on her walker in the middle of the group was a one hundred-year-old woman in a bright blue blouse. She was the wife of the allergist I had seen many times as a small child. (I remember his fanciful mustache and the twelve needles he stuck in my arm). She had visited the Cone collection when it was still in Etta and Claribel's apartments and charmed us all with her lovely account of being awed by what she saw on the walls there, so many years ago.

I think we could honestly say this book is for everyone – ages ten to one hundred.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pay It Forward with Literature

"This book has not been lost. It has no owner; it is part of the Argentine Free Book Movement, and it was left in this place so that you would find it."

This is the handwritten message on the flyleaf inside a copy of
El paraíso de los ladrones, a Spanish translation of British author G. K. Chesterton's The Paradise of Thieves, left on a bench in a public square in Buenos Aires. (

What a novel idea. Leave a book in a public space for the next reader to find and pass it on. This is part of the Argentine Free Book Movement to promote literacy in Argentina. The concept is simple, leave a book in a public space with a note attached asking whoever stumbles upon it to read it and then “release it” to the next reader.

This is the type of ingenuity that has placed Argentina on the literary map and given Buenos Aires the UNESCO title of World Book Capital 2011. The city will remain the World Book Capital until April 23, 2012 when the title will be conferred to Yerevan, Armenia.

With this title, Buenos Aires will be awarded with a 30,000 volume multilingual library. Further, artist Marta Minujín has started work on a 25-meter high "Tower of Babel," made entirely of books that will be donated after a month long display to a new multilingual library in the city (image above).

The city has over 200 bookshops, 70 libraries, numerous literary magazines and journals, and large and small publishing companies, including original initiatives like 'Eloísa Cartonera', established by a group of writers in partnership with informal garbage pickers. (

I hope this superb concept is readily adopted in the United States. I will assist by leaving one of my own books on the train in Boston. Should you find it, I implore you to read it and pass it on.

Kudos Argentina, may we follow in your footsteps and turn a new page.