At a recent meeting, when my attention was not required, I skimmed Myrtle Reed’s Lavender and Old Lace, a poorly-written 1902 novel I downloaded free on the internet. I had ridden my bicycle to the meeting; you drove an environmentally-poisonous SUV. I wore a button-down shirt and baggy shorts; you wore a Lady Luck t-shirt and silk pants.
You’re much hipper in terms of book-hipness, because you were reading an advance copy of Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies.
I’ve read the great reviews of the new Hilary Mantel in The New York Times, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and all the other “New”s. But here’s the thing. I couldn’t get a copy of the latest Mantel today if I tried. It turns out May 8 is D-Day, the publication date, and it will not be in the store until then (unless the staff screws up). The newspaper and magazines published their reviews a week ahead.
We had a conversation at my house before I knew the book wasn’t out.
“I can’t wait to read Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies. It’s a sequel to Wolf Hall.”
“Is Wolf Hall good?” He doesn’t read historical novels, because they usually have ladies in fine gowns on the covers.
“Yes, it is. It’s about Thomas Cromwell. Thomas, not Oliver Cromwell.”
In England they probably study Thomas and Oliver in their cradles. We’re more about Thomas Jefferson.
But Mantel’s book isn’t available till next week, and I might not want it next week. I might want another big shiny pre-reviewed book next week. So I might save money on the Mantel because more books will have been pushed at me. (No, I want to read it.)
May 8 is the publication date for other big books: Nobel winner Toni Morrison’s Home and John Irving’s In One Person, too. They’ve all been reviewed a week early.
And I wish the review dates weren’t before the publication date. By next week, as I said, we’ll all have moved on…and the bookstores will lose money…well, that’s not the case with Mantel, Morrison, and Irving.