word craft


Upon seeing my newest book

LoyaltySome twen­ty-three days after the pre­sump­tive offi­cial pub­li­ca­tion of my lat­est book, Loy­al­ty, I received actu­al copies of the book. Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, I would have held the book in my hands at least four weeks pri­or to pub­li­ca­tion. The rea­son for the delay? Not clear. Let us put it down to those infa­mous sup­ply chain prob­lems and leave it at that. 

How did the book arrive? 

I am at my desk work­ing on a new book. 

There is a knock on my door. I open it and see a UPS man mov­ing away hav­ing left on my thresh­old a large box. It had come to Col­orado from Indi­ana. Ah yes, from HarperCollins. 

I open the box and there are some twen­ty copies of my new book. As per the stan­dard con­tract, I get 20 copies. From here on, if I want more, I have to buy them, all be it at a hefty discount. 

(I will send copies to fam­i­ly, and even some extend­ed fam­i­ly. Some friends. Will they read it? Some­times I know. Some­times I don’t. Once that dis­tri­b­u­tion is done I’ll have about five copies left.) 

How does it feel to have a book in hand that I began—in one sense or another—more than two years ago? 

To begin, it’s grat­i­fy­ing, and though I have pub­lished a lot, it’s always excit­ing in a mut­ed way. 

But while it may seem odd, when I glance at the book my first thought is, Did I real­ly write this? It seems extreme­ly big—word-wise—and since I am work­ing on anoth­er book and, as always, strug­gling to make it hap­pen, I tru­ly won­der how I did it. I kid you not. 

I note the dust jack­et. Some slight sug­ges­tions for changes I made were done. That’s gratifying. 

Then I exam­ine the book itself, the paper, the print, the bind­ing, its heft and feel. Feels good. 

I pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the maps in the books. I’m see­ing them for the first time.  I have always enjoyed maps in books. (I knew a book col­lec­tor who exclu­sive­ly sought out books with maps). In this instance, design­ing the maps was not so easy. When I wrote the book, I had tracked down a (repli­cat­ed) map of 1775 Boston for research. It was sent to the book design­er in Brook­lyn, New York. It nev­er arrived. We searched for anoth­er map. But since my orig­i­nal map store had closed—Covid?—it wasn’t easy. Map found, but then, since Boston itself has under­gone a phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion, we had to iden­ti­fy sites. 

Map enjoyed, I flip through the book, and sense how the book reads. Looks good. I try to iden­ti­fy the font. Not sure I can. 

Then I go to the title page, sign the book, and date it, “2–22-22.” I like that configuration. 

All that done, I put the book on my shelf in chrono­log­i­cal sequence with all my oth­er books, next to Rag­weed and Pop­py, my pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished book. Utter­ly different.

Loy­al­ty looks good. It will sit there, quite untouched. But I will note it and feel sat­is­fied. There, I think, that one is done. 

Then I return to my desk and con­tin­ue work­ing on my next book. 

I won­der, Will it ever be finished? 

5 thoughts on “Upon seeing my newest book”

  1. How won­der­ful that you con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence such awe and delight in see­ing the pub­lished results of months and years of your efforts to make sto­ries come to life! I fin­ished read­ing Loy­al­ty last week after being the first per­son to bor­row it from the Chester Coun­ty Library. It was a mar­velous read and indeed, it has “writ­ten by Avi’ ” all through­out its pages! A touch­ing, adven­tur­ous and insight­ful sto­ry that is actu­al­ly rather time­ly with the state of our nation and world today. Thank you for being a writer of reading!

  2. Love your blog, thoughts and writ­ing. Know that you are cher­ished by me and my fam­i­ly always. Send­ing love from Los Angles, California.

  3. I can imag­ine the won­der and the thrill that cours­es through you as you hold your new cre­ation. Hope­ful­ly one day I can expe­ri­ence it. Look­ing for­ward to read­ing LOYALTY.

  4. I just fin­ished Loy­al­ty about a week ago and real­ly enjoyed it. I’ve been on an Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion read­ing binge late­ly and this added to the dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives I’ve read. And it loved the map. I referred to it con­tin­u­al­ly through­out my read­ing. It helped me feel like I was liv­ing the sto­ry along with Noah and his fam­i­ly. Thank you Avi!


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