The Art of Pushing Books

By Jack Engelhard

 

The trick is to get yourself a good publicist, a publicist, as I was once told, who would kill for you. Well, that’s going too far, don’t you think? I haven’t had a publicist since that one time back then. After that it’s been me and you and where are you? I must learn the art of persuasion, public relations, backslapping. I should go to the right parties. I should do lunch at Elaine’s. I should get out more. Must get on TV. Better yet, get my own show.

 

My guess is that I’ll become rich and famous after I die. That’s how it usually happens. Success (for artists) usually happens after it too late.

 

I have no idea why I’m complaining. Most people have it worse. My gripe, I guess, is why we need all that marketing and the trickery that goes with it and why it is that TV personalities have all the apparatus and all the luck – when real writers  are stuck at our computers without a paddle.

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Naked Without a Teleprompter

By Jack Engelhard

 

This may come as a shock to readers who think I’m exceedingly smart or stupid, but listen, I do it my way, all on my own.

 

I have no staff to hand me material. Like other civilians, I walk through life entirely spontaneous. I even write books all by myself – wrote them all without help.

 

I take full responsibility for this column and for the thousands I’ve written throughout the years. 

 

But David Letterman makes $35 million a year reading off cue cards?

 

This man Letterman, as I understand it, now blames his writers for the Palin jokes that went over like a lead balloon.

 

Whom can I blame when I go wrong?

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Strange Deafness Afflicts Salinger Lawsuit

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Salinger can’t hear? That’s hard to take.

 

Reports are coming in that JD Salinger “is now totally deaf.” That’s a quote being attributed to his agent, whose job it is to enforce his privacy.

 

As I wrote in an earlier piece (“Salinger Alleges Indecent Rip-off”), I don’t know much about the law, but here, as a novelist who names Salinger as one of his literary heroes, I can say what strangeness it is to blurt out such news. I don’t doubt the truth of this revelation, but I do wonder why it got out from his gatekeepers. They must have known it would make headlines – and not in a good way.

 

Already there are parodies of his aging (he’s 90) and headlines that term him “frail and deaf.” (Shades of Howard Hughes?) I hope we’re not gloating.

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Salinger Alleges Indecent Rip-Off

  Indecent Proposal 

 

By Jack Engelhard

Someone has come along with a “sequel” to JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” Salinger is suing to stop publication and distribution. He calls it a “rip-off.” Don’t look at me to get into the legalities. But I do know how it feels.

I wrote nothing as popular as “The Catcher in the Rye” but popular enough to be translated into more than 22 languages and to be made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore – “Indecent Proposal.” (The movie’s box office was about $260 million worldwide.) The novel’s concept (“what would you do for a million dollars?”) was mine and the title was mine. This was original and it was my baby.

My novel sold about 4 million copies worldwide and still sells (through Comteq Publishing) even after the movie has run dry.

Salinger’s novel is still going strong after sales of 70 million.

Around the house, following the publication of “Indecent Proposal,” we used to say, “No matter what happens, they can’t take that away from you.”

Really?

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Employees Must Wash Hands

By Jack Engelhard

I’m not perfect either but I’ve got to say, people are tough to take.

At the diner where I had breakfast this morning, the sign in the Gents room said, “Employees Must Wash Hands.” That’s a sign we find everywhere.

My cat knows to wash her hands after doing her business. People have to be told. We call this evolution? Maybe Darwin had it backwards.

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Hillary’s Kiss Is Still A Kiss

Hillary’s Kiss

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Back, several years ago, when Hillary Clinton kissed Suha Arafat, well, some of us thought of it as just a “fem thing,” you know, sisters of the world unite and all that. You must remember this — right after Suha (falsely) accused Israel of poisoning Arab children, Hillary offered Suha a big fat smooch of consolation. (Google and Wikipedia have the photo.)

 

Was it just a fling, or is it True Love?

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Israel’s Audacity

By Jack Engelhard

 

King David – writing 3,000 years ago but always as current as today and as prophetic as tomorrow – begins his second Psalm like this:

 

“Why are the nations in an uproar [against Israel]?”

 

There is no end to this rhetorical question.

 

Here’s a headline from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “International Community Alarmed Over Israel’s Settlement Expansion.” (ALARMED!)

 

This, from the Associated Press: “UN Report Faults Israel Over Gaza.”

 

In its Sunday edition, The New York Times offers this quote from a UN official: “Everything Israel does now will be highly contentious.” (This is news?)

 

The backdrop – the back story – is this administration’s Nuremberg Approach toward Israel. The Nuremberg Laws’ sole purpose was to deprive the Jews of their rights as citizens, eventually to disown them, displace them and prepare them for annihilation. A third of all Jews thus perished.

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Stereotyping Oursevles

By Jack Engelhard

The New York Times reminds us that Philip Roth is into his 50th year as a writer. His first book was “Goodbye, Columbus.”

Roth is an Establishment figure, a media darling. Our culture honors Jewish writers – and Jewish artists in general – who are not happy being Jewish. This theme runs through most of Roth’s works. This is a man running from his faith; uncomfortable in his skin. For that, he is celebrated.

The Jews in Roth’s novels are usually whining and groaning – objects of ridicule from clothing to behavior. There is no love of Jewish roots, no love of Torah. If Torah is mentioned, it’s done so in derision. Always there are complaints about being Jewish. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – That’s not writing. That’s kvetching.

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Sneak Peek This Novel!

 By Jack Engelhard

   The Girls of Cincinnati Sometimes it pays to get out of bed in the morning. THIS morning, there it was, Amazon’s “Look Inside This Book” feature for “The Girls of Cincinnati.” The book was published not even a month ago by Amazon (through its createspace subsidiary) but it takes some time to get that sneak-peek feature up and running, but here it was and here it is, something of a thrill for a writer and maybe (hopefully) for a reader.

I don’t mean to do any sucking-up, but I do so appreciate this quick, professional work. Where – reading and writing fans – would we be without Amazon?

Amazon came along just when writing and reading were dying. Book stores were closing and writers who were not Dan Brown had no shot.

Oh – yes, some call it Print on Demand. I don’t. I call it Bypass Literature. This lets writers bypass the snobs who pay Hillary Clinton Eight Million Dollars for a “book” of nonsense. Some bad books get published POD but here’s a secret – plenty bad books get published by so-called conventional publishers. Plenty good books get self-published, beginning with Walt Whitman.

The most famous small book of all time – Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” – was first self-published by William Strunk, Jr.

We will never know how many great books never got published due to the clubby, chummy, clueless world of (conventional) editors and publishers.

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