They’re Coming to Cambridge

Circumstances are prodding me to get my butt in gear today and launch an occasional blog feature, Books In My Bookcase, that’s been simmering on my back burner for quite a while. (See the explanatory note at the end of this entry.)

Specifically, I see that my pal and cartooning colleague Mikhaela Reid, whose political cartoons have recently been collected in book form under the title Attack of the 50-ft. Mikhaela, is making a public appearance in Cambridge tonight (that’s September 28) in the company of her husband and fellow ‘tooner Masheka Wood.

Those of you who have been following Mikhaela’s rise as a new and obstreperous voice in the political cartooning realm know that she is a firecracker in a world of whoopee cushions. And since it’s just possible that some of this blog’s readers reside in or near Boston, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you hop to it you can catch the Mikhaela-and-Masheka slideshow tonight at 7 PM at the Center for New Words (that’s at 7 Temple Street) in Cambridge.

Be prepared to be blinded by Mikhaela’s dazzling red hair as well as her dazzling intellect. (I haven’t yet met Masheka, but I’m sure he’s no slouch when it comes to hair color and intellect himself.)

And now to explain what Books In My Bookcase is all about.

Two aspects of my personality combine to make me want to talk about books in this blog. One is a friendly impulse; one a compulsion.

The Friendly Impulse

Many of my friends are, like me, authors. Periodically they publish new books (usually with far greater frequency than I do), and when that happens my impulse is to do what I can to help make the reading public aware of their newborn offspring.

Ignoring the fact that my blog has significantly less clout when it comes to spotlighting new literary works than does, say, Oprah’s Book Club, I choose to behave as if a mention of the book in this space can make a small difference in a work’s commercial fate.

Ideally I would prefer to swing into action soon enough after a new book’s debut to contribute to its initial marketing push (maybe even provide a quotable blurb when my admiration for the book inspires me to compose blurb-level verbiage). Unfortunately, I have such difficulty finding time to simply write blog posts, much less digest entire books, that I inevitably fall behind the marketing curve when I manage to write anything at all. This is a source of great chagrin to me and I shudder to think how many friends I’ve let down over the years by failing to step up to the plate fast enough to conceivably be of some help.

In the past, of course, my uselessness as a volunteer publicist has been aggravated by the fact that I have lacked access to a publication that was itching to help me get the word out about anything, be it books or politics. But now I have my own blog, so what’s to stop me from doing what I can, even if it’s done tardily, to help the world know about what my talented friends are up to? Nothing. So there!

The Compulsion

Whenever I visit someone’s house, be they friend or foe, I can’t stop myself from drifting innocently toward any available bookcase. Having strategically positioned myself, I will stand and chat as if no ulterior motive were at play until my host leaves the room to fetch a beverage for me or see if an entree needs to be plucked from its burner. Once the coast is clear, I go into bookshelf-scanning mode.

I can’t help it. I like seeing what other people choose to stock their personal libraries with.

(By way of reassurance to any of my friends who are becoming alarmed at this point, let me add that there are limits to my nosiness. I would never, for example, go furtively burrowing in bedroom sidetables or under mattresses to see what the household’s preferred varieties of porn are. Your secrets in that arena are safe.)

But to return to a more elevated plane, I suspect that I’m not the only bookcase snoop running loose. So as a service to readers of this blog who share such proclivities, I’ve decided that I will occasionally pluck volumes randomly from my own bookcases and share a remark or two about them with you. Some of these will be books I’ve recently acquired; others will have followed me since my high school days. Some will be ragged; some pristine. Some I have kept because I actively cherish them; some are just too weird or impossibly bad to throw away.

Some of you will find this kind of indulgence entertaining. If enough of you beg me to stop, I will.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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0 Responses to They’re Coming to Cambridge

  1. Andrew Bemis says:

    I have the same compulsion, actually (it extends to records and DVDs). I can spend days fixating over the seeming contradictions displayed in a person’s library.