Adventures in Marketing: Week 239

Checks received for “Goshkin”s from a high school friend and a former secretary, and one for a (second) IWKYA from a basketball pal.
I attribute this economic surge to Biden’s election.

In other news…
1.) Words of mouths have been pouring in.
a.) The gift “Cheesesteak” was “devoured” by the prominent Philadelphia sports personage to whom I’d sent it. (He liked reading about Adele and me so much I sent him an IWKYA.)
b.) The gift “Best Ride” I sent to the Iowa linguistics professor was praised for its “dasein” and “phenomonological being,” terms never before applied to anything I had written.
c.) A lawyer-pal called “Goshkin” “my favorite of the collected works of Bob Levin.”
d.) My IT guy liked it, especially the Andy Kaufman chapter, even though he wasn’t a Kaufman fan.
e.) The aforementioned basketball pal, whose favorite chapter, by the way, was the JFK assassination one, said the book’s ending “brought a tear to my eye (and)… inspired me to run over to (his partner’s) house and have rampant sex.” [Then he added, “How’s that for a potential blurb?”]
2, Less encouraging were…
a.) My NYC friend who was waiting to finish “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” before getting to “Goshkin” still hasn’t, plus she has jumped readings for three Bible study groups ahead of it. (That’s a first too); and…
b.) My offer to swap books with a woman in Georgia, with whom I had entered into correspondence years ago over our mutual interest in the B-movie actress Peggy Manley (See “Cheesesteak.” p.33) was rebuffed. The woman, previously known to me as the author of e-books for the Christian bondage market, had just announced one defending American Jews (“the Chanukah Crowd,” as she put it) from charges of waging War on Christmas, and I was left to buy my own.
But on balance, he upshot has been to increase the likelihood I will publish another book. Adele put it this way. “Even if only your friends read it, it would be the very best gift you could give them – for under $100.”
[ALL BOB’S BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS VERY WEB SITE (www.theboblevin.com). IMMEDIATE ORDERS WILL BE FILLED IN TIME FOR HOLIDAY GIVING – MAYBE.]

Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 237 – 238

No sales.
Gave a “Cheesesteak” to a distinguished journalist – and fervent Philadelphian – who was a year behind me in high school and with whom I recently connected through Facebook.
Gave a “Best Ride” to a distinguished linguist – and fervent basketball fan – with whom I recently connected through First of the Month.

In other news…
Reader reactions to “Goshkin” have continued to trickle in.
My brother, who may have been the first person to read it entirely, though this has not been confirmed, provided a deep and heartfelt response which, unfortunately, I can’t quote because I don’t have it handy. (Maybe next “Adventure.”)
Adele’s sister, whom I can quote, said: “I am someone who easily puts down and stops reading books for lots of reasons… and yet very often when I’ reading Bob’s stories (such as “Andy Katz’) the topic is not one I am grabbed by and yet Bob’s thought processes are so interesting I can’t not read it all.” [Author’s Note: So those of you who also aren;t grabbed by my choice of subject matter, take heed.] She also liked the parts she recognized as being about Adele.
And Michal Lydon, author of “Boogie Lightening” and “Rock Folk,” says “WILD!!!”

Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 235 – 236

A blitz of a few dozen friends and acquaintances with a direct e-mail “Buy ‘Goshkin’” campaign, produced three sales: a basketball pal; a high school friend; a nephew. Another basketball pal said he first wanted to “take a look,” the second person to insist on an in-person inspection. I suppose you can never be too careful these days, though it’s not like I’m claiming to be a Nigerian prince.
J.T., the book’s illustrator, reports a half-dozen sales, which includes an Etsy offering.
I also sent a copy to an artist/cartoonist in Slovenia whose work anchors one of “Goshkin”’s chapters.
And I sent a “Cheesesteak” to a gentleman in Philadelphia, whose generosity helped atmosphere-ize my “home gym.” But that’s a separate story.

In other news…
Reader reactions have been trickling in.
Adele’s brother is the first person to report finishing “Goshkin.” But he gets an asterix, since he skipped at least three chapters to do so.
Another reader reports her progress is slowed because she is reading each chapter twice. Knowing this reader, I take this is a compliment and her recognizing there is much meat in my prose to be savored and not that it is too gristly and boney to chew through.
Then there is the woman who’d kept “Goshkin” quarantined for a week before opening the mailer. She says she’ll begin it as soon as she finishes “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” I believe she will be the first person to come to me immediately after Kate Douglas Wiggin.
But the weirdest story originates north of the border. I had sent a “Goshkin” and an IWKYA to friends in Montreal. They reported the mailer arrived, ripped open and empty. “Nothing like this has ever happened to us,” they said. The books did not appear to have been seized at the border – which would, at least, have fueled my advertising campaign. Our friends deduce that someone found the books “interesting enough to hang onto… (and I) have a fan out there, albeit a dishonorable one.” Also, a peculiar one, for, having pocketed the books, why would s/he have stuck the envelope back in the mail and allowed it to continue its journey?
This does, however, represent a notable advance in my literary standing among felons. After the publisher of my first novel informed me it would be shredding all unsold copies in its warehouse, I acquired what-has-proved-to-be more than a lifetime’s supply. We left the cartons in the garage and, one morning, received a call from a construction worker who’d arrived at his job side and found one of these cartons dumped there. Obviously, the burglar, who’d also made off with some gardening tools, didn’t think I was held in high regard on the collector’s market. We retrieved his rejected booty – and I signed one for the worker.

The Kid

This morning, seeking distraction from COVID and Trump, I switched to TCM. There was Leo Gorcey and the East Side Kids, co-starring with Bela Lugosi and a 2’11” dwarf (Angelo Rossitta), who got his start playing opposite Lon Chaney. The East Side Kids starred in 21 films; before that, as the Dead End Kids, they had starred in seven (and a Broadway play), and later, as the Bowery Boys, in another 41, which is when I first met them, and at the conclusion of this run Gorcey was 39, a “kid” or “boy” no more. Except there. a stumpy, cocky screen presence the leader of the gang, all the way.

But never above 5’6″. Which wasn’t bad, since his father, a Jewish immigrant, was 4’10” and his mother, an Irish Catholic one, was 4’11” They were vaudevillians, so Leo, while more-than-half-a-foot better nourished, had sawdust, as they say, in his veins.

He had five wives, the first of whom, a dancer, was 15 and, after their divorce, she became Groucho Marx’s second.

An alcoholic, Gorcey died of cirrhosis of the liver at 52. He could have been on Sgt. Pepper’s cover, but he demanded money and was painted out.

Probably more than you wanted to know.

Only in America, I couldn’t help thinking.

On Anything But a Roll

I contributed (briefly) to First of the Month’s all-star pre-election issue:
http://www.firstofthemonth.org/author/various-authors/

Here’s a sample of what I said about the Supreme Court:

Where did these fuckheads come from? When I was in law school (1964-67) our few conservatives lurked in the shadows, eating spiders, tearing the wings off flies. They seemed like diplodoci, sinking into the black ooze of extinction. What reverse-Darwin, soul-swapped dark magic has restored them, black robed, frozen souled, gibbering for revenge?

Adventures in Marketing: Week 234

“Sold” one GOSHKIN.
The quotes are because I had sent it as a gift to the fellow whose work had led to the Edward Gorey chapter. But he didn’t remember ordering it and sent me ten and a five. When I explained and offered a refund, he said that, as a writer/publisher himself, he knew the realities of the game, and I could keep it.
Other acknowledgments of receipt have come in from Cincinnati Brooklyn, rural Arkansas, Boston, and Tustin, CA. (A dozen non-responders makes me wonder if I put the books in Vote-By-Mail envelopes by mistake.) G is not a book anyone would whip through, and, so far, no one has acknowledged making it to p. 50; but exit poll responses have included “terrific,” “great,” “really enjoying it,” and “lovely.” (This last from someone on p. 4.)

In other news…
I sent a copy (and an IWKYA) to a couple in Montreal. I had written about the fellow several years ago. As a subject, he had been exceedingly generous, and we had remained in touch.
I was happy to send GOSHKIN, but, especially after adding the second, the matter of international postage gave me pause. The question of did I want to be a person who requested reimbursement unflatteringly nagged at me all the way to the clerk’s window. But once I’d bitten this pecuniary bullet, I felt so inflated by self-worth, I got another envelope ready for Slovenia.

[All books available from this very web site.]

Adventures in Marketing: Week 233

Sold two “Goshkin”s.
My first customer, through Spruce Hill’s post office box, was an ex-commercial fisherman/short story writer whom I’d met when he read at the café. The second was a retired newspaperman/basketball pal, to whom I’d given one and wanted a second as a birthday present for his son. (Hint. Hint.) He paid cash.
Mail deliveries – all book rate – have not been steady enough to make me confident about the election. Some Berkeley recipients got theirs the day after mailing, and it took one copy only two days to get to New York. But it took one a week to reach Newton Centre and another about that to make it to Menlo Park. (The fate of half the others that have been shipped remains unknown.)
As for reader responses… Two copies remain quarantined within their envelopes. The more daring recipients have uniformly praised the cover, front and back. (One hopes that proves to be how a book can be judged, after all.) The sister of the dedicatee praised the dedication. (She also liked the copyright page, which may be a first.) One fellow seems to have skipped directly to the Bob Dylan chapter and liked it. And a somewhat baffled high school classmate writes “No wonder I was in Section 2 and you were in Section 1.”
But don’t let that scare you.
Books remain available at www.theboblevin.com.

I have two pieces in the new FIRST OF THE MONTH. Here’s the link to the first: http://www.firstofthemonth.org/top-ten-things-wrong-with-aaron-sorkins-trial-of-the-chicago-seven-or-if-you-want-to-learn-history-dont-go-to-the-movies-read-books1/

It ends:
But you know what this movie should have been? Half Vietnamese and Americans getting killed and half police clubbing the crap out of people. Maybe throw in some cities burning and then, okay, a couple court room minutes with multiple, mini-Marx Brothers running amok.

Here’s the link to the second: http://www.firstofthemonth.org/the-bag-im-in/

It begins:
A heavy bag, I should say, besides being a fit way for any sentient being to respond to the world, aids your average septuagenarian’s anaerobic condition, hand-eye co-ordination, and balance – so’s he don’t fall on his nose when going down the hall for the night squirt.

:

Adventures in Marketing: Week 232

Sold five copies of “Goshkin” and one each of “Pirates and Mouse,” “Most Outrageous,” and “Schiz” to a woman in Chester County, PA, who’d come across another of my books a few months ago and become a fan. (This smashes my old Single Purchase record, previously held by a bi-polar woman who, in a manic phase, gave everyone in the café a Meyer lemon, bought one of each book on my table, took another half-dozen from the “Free” shelves – and has not been back since.) It is always a kick when, at conventions or signings or in the café, someone I don’t know personally buys one of my books, and this Chester Countyian has joined a rare group who reassure me that what I am doing isn’t entirely nuts.
“Goshkin,” by the way, is here. First box arrived Wednesday. I mailed out copies Thursday, and first responses came Friday. (This is a tribute to Media Mail. Vote-By-Mail ballots should do as well.) Two recipients “can’t wait to read it,” and one said, “It looks terrific. Hilarious!”, a compliment I forwarded to J.T. Dockery, its illustrator/designer, since he’s the guy who deserves it. (All recipients were in Berkeley, north, south and west, so if you don’t have yours yet don’t worry.
[By the way, if you haven’t ordered. My web site, www.theboblevin.com, accepts Pay Pal.]

In other news…
1.) Dept. Of Journalistic Ethics: The publisher of a cartoon collection I am to review has gifted me with a half-dozen pairs of sox (five white, one pink) adorned with images from the work under consideration. Would Bob Woodward wear them, do you think?

Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 230 – 231 1/2

Sold one more (pre-publication) “Goshkin.” The buyer was a high school classmate – and the journalistic talent in her yearbook co-editorship.
And swapped ten copies to the nonpareil J.T. Dockery, its illustrator/cover designer for some of the original art with which he graced it. (And J.T. reports he’s sold one already, via a virtual comicon he “attended.”
Additionally, I gave away an IWKYA, which is a nice story.
When I started out as a lawyer (1970/71), the firm I had space withused to send Xmas cards to clients. I decided to do the same, and if a client sent me one, even if their case was closed, I held them over to the next year’s list. Some of these exchanges went for long stretches, but within a few years of my retirement (2011), only three remained, a fellow from Greece and a woman from China, who were a couple, and a woman from Spain, for whom I’d gotten a divorce, and who’d been with me practically since the start.
Then two or three years ago, she stopped. The last card she’d sent had mentioned she’d had a stroke, but I couldn’t find her address and had no way of checking on her. A month ago, filling in some COVID-induced idle time cleaning my study, I found an envelope from her – which gives you some idea about the nature of my study – so I took a chance and wrote her. I received a lovely note back, telling how well she and her son and daughter, whom I knew about, and granddaughter, whom I didn’t, were doing and suggesting we e-mail.
So I sent my address – plus the book. I doubt she knows I was a writer. Hell, when I was her lawyer, I didn’t either.