Oh, how I loved this essay. It’s the perfect way to start a Monday. Enjoy!
REMEMBERING THE WORST BOOK
LORI JAKIELA ON THE TIME SAM’S CLUB CONFUSED HER FOR MISS AMERICA
By Lori Jakiela
Outside Sam’s Club there’s a bubble machine, like on Lawrence Welk. It’s meant to be festive because this is a grand opening, a new store on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, but customers swat the bubbles like flies. A creepy clown with a button that says “Free Hugs” chokes balloons into poodles while a woman with a Marge Simpson up-do hands out free-hotdog coupons like she’s doling dollars from her own wallet. A teenager with boxers that poof from his jeans like a life preserver shows people where to get the free cake.
“Keep a song in your heart,” Lawrence Welk, that polka pimp, that purveyor of wonderful, said so often it’s on his tombstone.
* * * *
When my publisher’s in-house publicist Annie called to say she’d set up a booksigning for me at Sam’s Club, she said, “Don’t snark. It’s a good opportunity.” She said, “It’s not just any Sam’s. It’s a Grand Opening.” She said, “Sam’s moves a lot of books.” She said, “Sedaris does Costco all the time.”
I know I should be grateful. Years later, I’ll realize how grateful. But for now, this is my first book and with each day its failure, my failure, becomes more obvious and heart-sinking.
For every writer, the first-book dream is different. For me, it was a review in The New York Times, maybe O Magazine. It was NPR with Terry Gross, who’d teach me to sound sexy-serious and let me touch her hairdo because we’d be instant friends like that.
What’s happened, though, is pretty much nothing. I check my pulse-less Amazon sales rankings every 15 minutes, even in bed under the covers. I Google myself. I Google myself again. I Google myself again and my husband swats me because he wants to sleep.
“Just write another book,” he says, but there’s this one to hope for and mourn first.
* * * *
Annie the publicist is perky as an Alka Seltzer, but I know and she knows my book isn’t selling enough to make back my advance, which is death for my writing career. Lately I’ve been doing what I can. I’ve been giving readings at dive bars and senior citizen centers, in basement book clubs and at 4H fairs.
Last week I gave a reading at a club where people were armed with Nerf guns and threatened to shoot if they didn’t like what they heard. I was prouder than I should have been when they didn’t shoot.
Read the rest here at Literary Hub.