It’s been almost three weeks in the U.S. since the biography and stories came out. Next week they come out in the UK.
In advance of the UK publication, W.W. Norton UK has put up an excerpt of the biography. You can read the prologue and get a sense of the book. (The links there are for UK readers to purchase the book, but you can always come back here and find links to the US sites. Just click on the book.)
If you are interested in getting a taste of what Woolson’s stories are like, then you can go over to the Center For Fiction website, where they have put up “Miss Grief” in their Model Short Stories series, with an introduction by yours truly. I will be having a conversation there next Thursday about all things Woolson with the novelist Sheridan Hay, who is writing a novel about Woolson. It promises to be a very exciting evening. If you are in New York, please join us!
Speaking of events, there are some more coming up next week, in D.C., NYC, and Frederick, MD. Please spread the word!
March 24, 2016–New York Rifkind Center, The City College of New York. 12:30 PM. “Does the Recovery of Women Writers Still Matter?”
The biography has been making some waves since I last posted. It’s been one of 5 books making news at LitHub, “Editor’s Choice” in The New York Times Book Review, and “New and Noteworthy” at Times Higher Education. More reviews have appeared as well, in the The Boston Globe and Shelf Awareness. Reviews of the stories have also appeared in Bookslut, Shelf Awareness, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
I also did an interview with the wonderful Pamela Toler on her site, History on the Margins. My favorite question was:
One of the themes that struck me as I read Constance Fenimore Woolson was the difficulty of a woman being taken seriously as a writer, particularly when dealing with women’s emotions and themes related to women’s lives. More than a hundred years later, the question of being defined in terms of “women’s fiction” is still a vexed one for many writers. Could you tell us a little about the specific challenges Woolson faced, and how they compared to those that women writers face today?
You can see my answer here.
So things seem to be going pretty well. It’s hard, though, to keep up with the roller coaster of emotions and energy following a book launch. I’ve read some pretty powerful things online from other writers lately about how strange and exhilarating the whole process can be. Newly published author Julie Christine Johnson wrote a lovely blog post called “Ready to Exist,” and Lithub published this gem, “On the Deep Disquiet of Finishing Your Book.” The latter’s phrase, “peculiar, self-indulgent period of unease” really captures the experience for me. But I’m supposed to just be thrilled about the whole thing, right? Sure, I am, but other less jubilant feelings run alongside the elation. It would be too “self-indulgent” to name them here, so I’ll leave them to your imagination. But I will say that I bought my first box of Tagamet the day after I learned that my book would appear on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. (See previous elated post, in which I didn’t mention the Tagamet).
These essays were hugely consoling and helped me realize that what I’m feeling is normal. (They don’t mention the sudden propulsion into middle-age memory loss though. I can’t even remember how many things I’ve forgotten in the past few weeks.) But nothing prepares you for the extreme highs and lows and the building dread, even while things are going well, that the momentum will slow and that even though people are talking about your book this week, next week they could forget all about it. So maybe it’s more of a treadmill than a roller coaster. You have to say on it and keep chugging, or you will fly off and land right on your face. (Too dramatic? Probably.)
I have to end this on a happier note, so here are some pictures from my book launch, which I shared with my family and some wonderful friends. That was one of the best nights of my life. No Tagamet needed.