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All Good Gifts

(Godspell song reference in the title!)

I’m a few days late this year.  My birthday was actually last week, but once again, I’m giving YOU a present.

If you haven’t read my books yet, here’s a special offer: until January 1st, all of my eBooks are FREE on SmashWords.

Welcome to Newtonberg is already free, so there is no special code needed for it.

To get All That Remains free, use coupon code HS46W at checkout.

For Back to Newtonberg, use coupon code AL23Q at checkout.

Thanks again for all of your support this past year. Feel free to share this post with everyone you know to help get the word out about the books!

(And watch this space — BIG NEWS coming in January!)

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In memoriam: Umberto Eco, 1932-2016

I hope you don’t mind, but I am foregoing my usual song lyric/post title format this time. In this particular case, I don’t feel it’s appropriate.  The importance of someone’s life shouldn’t be reduced to  song title.

Last night I logged onto Facebook and learned that one of my favorite authors had died.

Not Harper Lee — although To Kill a Mockingbird is indeed a classic of American literature.

I’m talking about Umberto Eco.

I went through the first twenty years or so of my life not ever having heard of Umberto Eco.  While I’ve always been a reader, until college I pretty much stuck with American or British authors. To my knowledge, I never read a book that had been translated from another language (aside from Beowulf or some obscure short stories in high school English class).

When I took my first job at the public library where I would work for over twenty years, one of my co-workers had worked in the publishing industry as an editor.  She seemed very intelligent and sophisticated to me, and I was impressed by her wide knowledge of the various authors in our collection.

One day, we were putting books on the cart to reshelve them when I spotted The Name of the Rose among the titles.  I recognized it as having been the basis for a Sean Connery movie that I had yet to see, and remarked that the book could be an interesting read.

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll like it,” she replied.  “It’s very intellectual.”

Now at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, but it sounded a little like an insult (whether she intended it to be perceived as such or not). Feeling as if I’d been issued a challenge, I determined that I would read the book anyway, just out of spite.

And that’s how I discovered Eco — someone challenged my intellectual ability (or at least, that’s how I perceived it).

I’ve told this story to people over the years, and while most react the way I did at the time (“How dare she judge what you’re capable of understanding?”), at least one person challenged that reaction: “Did you ever stop to think that she was using reverse psychology to get you to step outside your comfort zone?”

Thinking back on it twenty years later, they could have been right.

At any rate, I am grateful to her.  Had it not been for Eco, I never would have discovered other authors I love, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Arturo Perez-Reverte. Had it not been for The Name of the Rose, I never would have read Eco’s other books — Baudolino, Foucault’s Pendulum, Numero Zero.  I never would have developed my love-hate relationship with The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.

Because of Eco, I broadened my horizons internationally.  I discovered foreign films (La vita è bella, La cité des enfants perdus, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain), and musicians such as Emma Shapplin,  Louis Bertignac, and the participants in the wonderful French annual charity concert Les Enfoirés.

Umberto Eco made me a better writer, a more creative thinker, and above all more aware of the world I live in.  Words are not adequate to express my gratitude. As he said himself in the postscript to The Name of the Rose: “Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.”

Anything I say has been said before, and (most often) more eloquently than I could say it myself. So I will simply say this:

“Thank you. And may you rest in peace.”

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Hot Fun in the Summertime

(Sly and the Family Stone reference today. Just seemed fitting, that’s all.)

Every weekday at work, I receive an e-mail called Shelf Awareness that keeps me up-to-date on book news, new releases, movies and TV shows that are coming out based on books, etc. As a librarian, this is invaluable to keep us on top of what patrons might be asking for.

An occasional feature of Shelf Awareness is a “spotlight” section called Book Brahmin. This section highlights new authors, or established authors with new books coming out.

Just for fun, I thought I might do my own Book Brahmin “interview”, using the questions from the latest installment as the basis.

Enjoy!

Book Brahmin: David Emprimo

David Emprimo is a continuing education student at Life University, where he is earning his Ph.D. in “Growing Up, Growing Old, and How to Deal with It.” He lives in East Texas, where he works at a public library. His new book, All That Remains will be released by SmashWords, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct Publishing sometime in 2013. On your nightstand now:
My Kindle, which contains about 100 or so books at any given time, including the complete Murder She Baked series by Joanne Fluke, a lot of Stephen King, Umberto Eco, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and a ton of biographies/autobiographies. One or two real books make appearances there, mainly biographies or books about music, movies or comedy.

Favorite book when you were a child:
Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells when I was really young, The Kids’ Candidate by Jonah Kalb when I was a young teenager.

Your top five authors:
In no particular order: Umberto Eco, Stephen King, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Joanne Fluke and Mick Foley.

Umm… Mick Foley?
Yep.

Book you’ve faked reading:
The Scarlet Letter.

Books you’re an evangelist for:
Probably either The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Although I do feel a particular need to defend Mick Foley as an author. The man can write, and he knows how to tell a story in a way that totally immerses the reader.

Book you’ve bought for the cover:
I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book just for the cover. I’ve browsed a few because of the cover, but I always read some of it before I decide to buy it.

Book that changed your life:
On Writing by Stephen King.

Favorite line from a book:
Not a line, but a passage. From The Body, by Stephen King:

“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seem limitless when they were in your head, to no more than living size when they’re brought out.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?  The most important things lie too close to where your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away.  And you make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried when you were saying it.  That’s the worst, I think.  When the secret stays locked within, not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.”

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls by Emilie Autumn. I really wish this was available — text only — for the Kindle. There is an official PDF version available, but it’s over 1GB in size! While I appreciate Emilie’s devotion to her artwork, it was the text that drew me into the story, not the artwork.

What’s next?
Back to Newtonberg again. I’m doing research for a few story ideas right now. Probably another collection of short stories unless one of them just screams to be told as a standalone novel. We’ll see what happens when I start writing.

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