Sometime in January of this year, a week or two after I had left my beloved job at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago, my former boss emailed me with a manuscript and a request: did I feel like reading this book, within the next few days, and providing a blurb?
Well, of course I did. And the manuscript was by none other than Yuri Herrera, the author who introduced me to & Other Stories (an independent publishing house based in the UK, specializing in translated work). Signs Preceding the End of the World was one of those books which, embarrassingly (or not, if you are of my camp), I chose based on its completely badass cover (as well as an amazing blurb by Valeria Luiselli). Signs did not disappoint, as I made clear when I rec’d it for the Co-op’s holiday gift guide in 2015.
A few days after my submission, &OT emailed me asking for permission to publish the blurb that provides the occasion for this blog post. I agreed, and promptly forgot about the whole interaction for six months. While wandering through a bookstore in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh last week on a visit home (in the company of a man more concerned with his prolonged phone conversation than with the bookstore itself*), I stumbled across the first solid copy of the book I had seen, opened it, and indeed found my own, semi-pretentious words PLASTERED ON THE INSIDE OF HERRERA’S NEW TITLE. Check it out:
Yes, you could figure out my *real* name if you went out and found a copy of this book, which I’d encourage anyone to do who’s a fan of noir, the Mythical Southwest, or the movie Goodfellas. (You could also do this if you simply went to the amazon page for the novel.) I myself actually prefer Signs and therefore hedged a little bit in this blurb, opting for the descriptive rather than the evaluative; but I chalk this up to my aversion to mystery and genre fiction in general.
Mostly, this post is simply regarding my complete elation at seeing my name in print (an elation only slightly tempered through my occupation of a single inside page, rather than the cover; a girl can dream). Regardless, Herrera is an author of proven literary chops, and &OT is a publishing house of the sort the world needs more of. If you’re so inclined, give this (or Signs) a leaf-through the next time you find yourself in that most important of earthly places, your neighborhood bookstore.
Next post will be, as promised, a breakdown of the July titles I slogged through or salivated over. Stay tuned…
* a gross exaggeration. Many thanks also to said company for the subsequent purchase of this book.