Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dog Authors: A New Trend?

The last two book signings I attended were, in fact, paw signings.

Last Saturday Jag Schweitzer was signing his FIRST DOG (Farcountry Press 2007) at Bozeman's Country Bookshelf, A black-and-white border collie, prominent these days in the State Capitol of Helena, Jag was accompanied by his buddy Governor Schweitzer, who used the occasion to greet constituents and promote his bid for reelection. Jag assumed an independent air and schmoozed with his fans throughout the session, not allowing his dogship to be upstaged by the Gov. Author Jessica Solberg and illustrator Robert Rath were on hand to add a sketch along with their signatures, and Schweitzer, not to be outdone appended his own pawprint to the historic dogument.

A month ago I was a panelist at the Billings book fair. For me, a highpoint of the festivities was Tess Kahn's presentation of her new book, TRAINING PEOPLE: HOW TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOUR HUMAN (Chronicle Books 2007) A black labrador rectreiver, Tess of Helena as her nom de plume describes her, gave an admirable performance before a select audience. Her insight into human behaviour, its foibles and pitfalls, was quite hilarious. I rather wickedly asked her to sign a book for my cat Mimi, a first for her, which presented a small quandary, since Tess's intentions towards the species makes the U.S. military's routing of Al Queda seem like cats play.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembering Norman Mailer

Yesterday November 10th, Norman Mailer died in New York City. This country has lost a great literary figure whose inquiring mind challenged the conventions, and whose sharp pen rattled a couple of generations, while providing food for thought, for gossip, for debate, for delight. I have lost a friend.

I met Norman Mailer in 1963 and could count him as a friend in the subsequent decades. I can recall countless memorable occasions at the Mailers' apartment in Brooklyn Heights and in their sea front house in Provincetown in the 1960's and 1970's. It was there Norman taught my oldest son to swim.

I was sitting in the Brooklyn Heights watching television with the Mailer family one Sunday afternoon in late 1963 when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, President John F. Kennedy's assassin. Norman saw the unscripted murder as it was happening and immediately understood its implications. For the next several years I would hear Norman discussing Kennedy's assassination from every possible angle, especially the conspiracy theories.

When I resigned my job as publicity director of Hawthorn Books because the company was sold, Norman recommended me to his publisher. At the time he was in Miami covering one of the boxing championships. He did not let distance deter him from helping out a friend.

Norman recommended my husband Gregory Hemingway to his agent when Greg decided to write a memoir in 1974. He then offered to write an introduction for the book, PAPA: A PERSONAL MEMOIR, which received the New York Times Book Review front page slot.

Thirty years later Mailer wrote a blurb for my own memoir, RUNNING WITH THE BULLS: My Years with the Hemingways.

Last year Mailer said of my illustrator son Edward's little cocktail book: HEMINGWAY AND BAILEY'S BARTENDING GUIDE TO GREAT AMERICAN WRITERS, "I like everything about this book except that I am not in it."

Farewell, Norman, you may be gone but you will not be forgotten.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat?

Halloween is a big deal in Bozeman for children and adults alike. Especially on a mild autumn night like yesternight.

Costumes are planned ages in advance. Routes are discussed. The best streets for getting booty are not always in the immediate neighborhood. Parents or older siblings may be roped in as chauffeurs. Receptacles can vary from pillow cases and garbage bags to plastic pumpkins.

The street where I live is one of the most popular venues in town. Last night between six and seven fifteen p.m. about one hundred supermen, monsters, witches,

fairies and recognizable popular cultural figures from two feet to six feet high, knocked on my door begging treats or threatening tricks if denied.

What a great custom to indulge in one night late in the year before the winter robs all joy of nocturnal outings.