Monday, December 6, 2010

Just Back from New York

...where I had several interviews with a wide range of publications. There were some interesting highlights to the trip, which I plan to do every few months to increase awareness of and enthusiasm for the book.

1) At one interview, which took place in a Starbucks during one of those east coast rainstorms in which it rains sideways (so that there's no way to dress or hold an umbrella to avoid getting soaked) , a gentleman gave up his comfy chair so that three of us could sit together and talk more easily. He stood nearby, which I didn't realize until he asked, "What book are you talking about?" I told him, and he said, "I've heard of that." (I gave him a promotional postcard I had printed up and he promised to order it on Amazon.) That was the second time that I or someone else mentioned the name of the book and someone else had heard of it, which is pretty cool considering that it's been out for less than 6 weeks. (If any of you have had the experience of someone recognizing the name of the book when you've talked about it, let me know! I love this kind of thing.

2) At another interview, a suggestion that I hadn't heard before came up: It was to create an edited version of the book (minus the provocative scenes) so that the text could be used in Middle Schools. I definitely have plans to propose the use of the book as supplementary material for course on Asian History, Russian History, Jewish History, Military History, etc., but I had never thought about Middle School or High School as an audience.

3) I saw a Concert Reading (though I don't know how this differs from a Stage Reading), of a play by Colin Greer: "Imagining Heschel." It was about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a prominent Jewish theologian and human rights activist (he marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King), who, in 1968, had been invited to 'educate' the Pope and the Vatican Council so that it would stop blaming the Jews for killing Christ, which is at the heart of antisemitism. I found a number of similarities between Rabbi Heschel's goals and those of my grandfather, who held the same attitude and pursued some of the same objectives through less ... 'proper,' shall we say, means. The play provoked thoughtful meditation on the nature of beliefs and the ability to forgive. I hope the brief run that the play had at the Cherry Lane Theater will return in a more expanded, theatrical form so that more people will have the opportunity to see it and begin thinking about some of the issues it raises. (I will have a lot more to say about this play, and the experience of watching it, in an upcoming blog entry).

4)  I learned from my experience talking with reporters that I need to narrow down how I talk about my book because there are so many themes that it makes it difficult for reporters to decide which angle to pursue. It's my job to make their job easier, which I'm working on, but then it's only experiences like these that teach me what I still need to learn.

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