Random thoughts: writing true to you, book trailers and Gary Shteyngart

BEING TRUE TO YOU: I was reminded on seeing this book trailer of my aspirational days when an editor told me that if I decided to focus on writing books for children, the primary characters should be boys. The reason, he said, was that girls will read books about boys but boys won’t read books about girls. I was also advised not to write about politics or religion. I understand his concerns: salability. Nonetheless, I write what I will. I hope you do too. It’s about being true to yourself and true to the story you have to tell.

(Note: if you are reading from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the site to view the two videos included in today’s post.)

BOOK TRAILERS: I don’t particularly care for the above book trailer. Occasionally I like to pop over to YouTube and check out what authors and publishers are doing.  Over time I’ve found that the ones that are truly appealing (and therefore memorable) are the ones where the writer can be a bit of a ham and doesn’t take herself or himself too seriously.

GRAY SHTEYNGART: This one (below) was produced a few years ago. I rather like it. It’s not surprising that it’s good. Gary Shteyngart (Absurdistan, A Novel) is brilliant and a satirist. The trailer is for Little Failure, A Memoirpublished in 2013.

Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

“Do not throw away your heart. Keep your heart. Your heart is all that matters … Throw away your ancestors! … Throw away your shyness and the anger that lies just a few inches beneath … Accept the truth! And if there is more than one truth, then learn to do the difficult work — learn to choose. You are good enough, you are HUMAN ENOUGH, to choose!” Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story.

Shteyngart photograph courtesy of Mark Coggins under CC BY-SA 2.0 license


In honor of Derek Walcott who died a few days ago, the recommended read for this week is The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.  Walcott first poem was published when he was fourteen and this book was published in his 84th year. Never more than now has the world needed the grace, wisdom and universality of his poetry. This is a must add to your poetry book collection.  It doesn’t include the epic Omerosalso recommended, but it does include some of his earlier work that I have not seen included elsewhere.

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