Monday, March 03, 2008

I confess. I'm a pusher.

by Michael Dymmoch

To get people hooked I often give away free samples. And like giant pharma, I try to advertise my wares. I push other people’s stuff, too—things I find particularly addictive. I don’t draw the line at kids.

In fact, I like to get them hooked early. With Goodnight Moon, and Pat the Bunny and Mother Goose for toddlers, then Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. For the older kiddies The Little Prince and Harry Potter and The Alchemist.

Teens are suckers for Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye and Rumblefish. And His Dark Materials, for the better readers. Kurt Vonnegut is particularly habit forming.

The paper drugs for grown-ups are too numerous to mention—from Andreae to Zimmerman, a drug for every taste--Conroy and Connolly and Child. Some of the old stuff is still pretty potent—like old wine—Chandler, Macdonald, and especially, Mark Twain.

It’s not just stories I’m selling. Some writers ideas are incredibly addictive—Darwin and Malcolm X, “The Machine Stops,” 1984, “Rashomon”...

I gotta say I learned my trade from the best. My mother was a pusher, a grade school librarian. She knew how to approach each kid to get him hooked—on books. She got it from her mother, who told marvelous stories right out of her head.

One of my heroes was Andrew Taft, who carried a concealed copy of the Bill of Rights and didn’t care who knew it. And Norman Senski, who said, “If you can’t say it in other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Yohma Gray, who taught me fuzzy writing is indicative of fuzzy thought.

I don’t think I’m an anomaly. I think there’re lots of us around. Because if you’re hooked, you’re probably a pusher.

Right?

Fess up.

24 comments:

Pete said...

Oh, I'm a big-time pusher as well. Though I pretty much give my entire family books as Christmas presents, I especially enjoy buying for my niece (age 23) and nephew (age 19) - both are very smart, open-minded and adventurous in their reading. My only failing is that I haven't compelled either one to contact me immediately after reading one of my book gifts to tell me their impressions of it. I'd like to think I'm making a difference in their lives - even if the difference is in the form of corruption.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Keep up the good work, Pete.

Maryann Mercer said...

Hi, my name is Maryann and I am a pusher.
Oh sure, I get paid to do it, but only part-time, and sometimes I think I should pay the store! (I do, but that's called purchasing I guess) When I like a book, or an author, I tell people. I give books as presents, suggest books to my peers, and steer parents towards new and old authors for their kids. There's nothing like having someone tell you "that was a great book you suggested. Are there more?" It's an addiction I'm happy to feed.

Bethany K. Warner said...

Oh yeah. I'm a pusher, an on-line pusher through my blog bkwriter.blogspot.com, talking up the titles I like.

Mark Combes said...

To turn a well-worn phrase, "Just say yes."

And now that I make a couple a couple bucks writing, I buy the books to push - I don't give them my copy.

Pete said...

Will do, Michael. I really should seek out that feedback from my nephew, if for no other reason than to find out what he thought of Guilfoile's book, which I gave him in 2006.

Sean Chercover said...

Pete - he loved it.

Sara Paretsky said...

I believe the written word is responsible for every ill we suffer personally and societally. Without it, there would be no religious wars because people couldn't argue about what Gd supposedly dictated to his alleged prophets. There would be no taxes and no need for me to spend seven hours a week trying to unravel SSA, IRA, Medicaid, etc forms from the chaos of the dining room table. What's so bad about an author tour in which we sing our stories to an auduience, rather than dealing with carpel-tunnel syndrome? Stories, yes, printed words, No!

Cory Srnec said...

-just wondering if the Norman Senski you mentioned is the same great person I know Cory

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