Sunday, May 3, 2009

Time, Etc. II

The actor Bryan Cranston, lately of Breaking Bad fame, gave me a nice plug in the April 27 issue of Time Magazine. Yes, that Time Magazine. It was the kind of promotion you really can’t buy, especially with a new book (The Year That Follows) coming out in a month. (For a list of confirmed appearances, click here.)

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, check out the first season, available now on DVD, then catch up on the second season on AMC. Cranston mentions me in Time; I mention him in my blog—hardly a fair quid pro quo. Let me be clear: I am absolutely sincere about Breaking Bad. Sometimes the thought really does count.

Back to the subject of book promotion: we need more of it. Since the Time Magazine piece, I’ve been receiving emails via my website, and several people have stopped me on the street to say they saw it. A few of these I didn’t know. The internet has done some real harm to books—especially by destroying a number of independent book stores—but can also be used to get the word out. Take the site Goodreads. My local librarian turned me onto it. I spent fifteen minutes the other night adding books I thought others might like. (I refuse to trash a book publically; there’s plenty of great books to read, and I’m well aware of just how hard it is to write one.) My technique was simple: I sat on my couch with my laptop in, well, my lap, then looked around at my bookshelves and picked out books I felt worthy. Some you may know (Ethan Canin’s America America, for instance), while others, like my friend Derek Green’s New World Order, you probably don’t. America America is a rare book, a wonderfully realized novel of the personal side of public life. New World Order is a book of stories about Americans abroad. The first, for example, deals with a guy trying to sell Harleys to GI’s inside the Green Zone in Baghdad. Check it out. Only fiction can put you in that world, and, sadly, you’re probably only going to hear about it here.