Tag Archives: publishing

The Third Policeman (part 1)

The plan was to be simple, at least the way that Thomas had been telling it. The Old Man — Mathers was his name — made his fortunes in fertilizer, dealt in cash that he kept hid beneath the floor boards. That night, we’d be waiting by the path to his house for to find him walking home, and we’d make damn sure he did’t make it.

“Damn sure.” Thomas’ words. He gave the first hit, bludgeoned with a tire pump to put him on the ground. Then he left the rest to me while he went to find the stash. “No witnesses,” he said. “Just an old man won’t be missed.” Not the way I’d hoped to do things, but we had to be sure. We had to.

I dug the spade into his head — that was all the weapons we had between us. It was a clean scoop, his brains like grits in a spoon. Too bad I’d lost me appetite. I used the bloody tool to dig a hole out in the woods. Not too far off the path — I needed the light, as little as it was, plus I had to keep an eye our two bicycles. Didn’t want someone to be stealing them while we were off making the grab, else we wouldn’t have a way to make it home.

See, the money was to be used for the book that I’d been writing since well before Thomas and I took up together. The Complete Annotated de Selby. There’s nothing in the stores that’s like it. My life’s work. But Thomas said we needed money for to publish it. And Old Man Mathers, well, he wouldn’t miss it. Or so Thomas said.

By the time he got back, I was nearly finished with the hole, digging with that tiny spade. “Aye, took you long enough,” I said. Thomas didn’t answer. He was a bit bent that I had left the corpse out on the path for all to see. I couldn’t carry him myself though, what on account of me leg. Thomas helped, and together we tossed him in the grave and closed it up, made our way up to his house to claim the prize.

When we got outside, Thomas stopped. Said I had to go in first, on account of he’d already been inside. In the interest of being fair and all that, just to prove his word.

I climbed in through the window, second from the left. The room inside was empty, but for a worn old wingback chair off in the corner. The cobwebs by the window sparkled by the moon, but the rest of them were covered up by dust and death. Thomas said the box was in the floor beneath the chair, hidden ‘neath the third board from the wall. I counted, then I double-counted three, just to be sure. Thomas was right — the board was loose, and I pulled it up with ease. It was much too dark inside to see below the floor, and I didn’t have me lamp, so I cleared away the spiderwebs and with me hand I felt around for anything resembled a money box. The angry little critters nipped at me, crawling up me arms, but I hardly noticed. I was too focused on the prize.

My fingers found it — a tin smith’s box, at least it felt like. “Thomas!” I cried. “It’s here!” I groped until I found something, a lid, or a handle, or something I could fix a grip on, and I pulled. There was a bright flash, something warm. And that’s…well, that’s when things turned a bit strange.

Jackie O No

I was an elegant baby, born three
short months before the crash, but never did
I beg or want, or keep my horses from
their oats, or sell their gleaming coats for cash.

I was an elegant toddler, but cried
when the Bonus Army was dispelled. They
fled from Hoover as he sucked away their
last hopes and sent them back to the Dust Bowl.

I was an elegant child, sure, but at
13, 227 forced the Russians
to fire on their own, and I couldn’t
have been a red blocking patrol, oh no.

I was an elegant teen girl, so my
step-siblings and I were mortified by
the bombs dropping on Germany, but that
was war, unlike the Empire State crash.

I was an elegant lady, with my
blood-stained pink Chanel suit and its matching
pink pillbox hat. That was the year of my
last good birthday, or maybe my only.

I was an elegant woman, and though
I was widowed not once, but twice, and the
earthquakes and the mudslides tossed up dirt passed
my knees, I died that way, too, elegant.

I was an elegant figure, icon
and royalty to a country that had
none of their own, editor in life and
in love, cursed by a name of my choosing.

That was the summer job that was

Hello. My name is Friday, and I’m an NYU Press intern.

Now, before you get all excited – before you start google-stalking me, offering me your facebook friendship, or attempting to buy your way into my head and heart by offering me delicious chocolate confections by Max Brenner – let me tell you this: I cannot get you my luxe job.

Sorry. It just doesn’t work that way.

That aside, what I can do is tell you all about what it’s been like working at NYU Press all summer. I have the opportunity to reflect on what it’s been like to dampen my feet in the rooftop pool of the academic publishing world – the deep end – and that’s what I plan to do.

NYU Press is interesting to me in that it’s a commercial enterprise with a decidedly non-commercial bent. We’re not looking to put out the next Harry Potter; what we strive to do is put forth first-rate scholarship, a world of the written word that is not generally at the top of casual readers’ lists. That said, the Press needs to be cognizant of dollars and sense; this leads to an interesting juggling game: how do we focus on mission A, introducing to the world the best academic work we can, while not losing side of somewhat opposing (OK, nearly diametrically opposing) mission B: making enough money that we don’t need to focus on mission B at all, allowing us to keep our focused the books?

The answer? It’s tough. I worked in Washington, D.C. for a number of years, and I always marveled at the similar mental and financial gymnastics undergone as a matter of course by the myriad non-profits in that city on a hill. Now I’ve had the chance to see how it plays out, and I’m starting to understand: it requires savvy and a very, very steady hand.

But far more interesting than the balance sheets – no, wait. I shouldn’t say that. I love the balance sheets. In fact, that’s been one of the best things about working here. I’ve gotten to do everything. I’ve worked on marketing projects, book proofing, and research both external and internal. I’ve gotten to do very artsy, bookish, right-brain work – like considering news hooks for stories based aspects of the outstanding text of our upcoming book by Guantanamo Lawyers s – as well as hard-core left-brain stuff, like Excel modeling of our authorship community over the last decade.

As a current and future writer, learning how a press functions was crucial to me. I knew that there would be proofing involved, and publicity, and someone to work with the printer. What I did not consider – or, I should say, among the many things I failed to anticipate – were: jacket design (we’ve got a guy for that), the difference between marketing and publicity (two related but very different fields), how to sell books (amazing that never came to mind, no?), how books are sourced and bought, getting rights permissions, accounting and budgeting… the list goes on and on. And while I certainly wouldn’t say I am ready for the life of the publishing magnate, now, by any stretch, I do think I have a much better idea of how the whole business works. Which was, of course, the point.

High points on the summer? Meeting Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz while we discussed their upcoming book, and talking with a friend whose interests lie in a related field. Getting to learn more about the field, and meet all the great people who work here. Boning up on my criminology.

Low points? Unsure.