Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 241 – 244

Sold one “Goshkin.” Well, “sold” with an * since the “buyer,” a fellow former w.c. attorney to whom I’d sent a copy in appreciation of her beyond-the-call support, felt she ought to pay for it. Okay.

In other news…
I have three 300 – 600 word pieces slatted to appear in “First of the Month,” mini-personal essays, I call them; but if I were Lydia Davis, I’d say “short stories.” (“Light and Deep – the Levin Way,” the editor says.
And a longer piece – and Goshkin’s return – about a black, gay, Kentucky mining town artist/cartoonist, who died of AIDs and starvation, will run at (Where do you find these people, this editor said. He asked if I would consider writing about someone better known or a more “traditional” up-and-comer.”
Sure, I said. It’s always nice to be asked.

This Writing Life (5.)

We were talking about Red Panda. The NBA’s greatest halftime act.
“When I see something like this,” I said, “I always wonder what her parents said when she told them she wasn’t going to med school but balance bowls she kicked onto her head while riding a giant unicycle.”
“That’s an excellent question,” Eric said, “but you have to appreciate that she is the best in the world at what she does. When I ask myself what I am best in the world at, all I can come up with is that, after years of going to Washington Bullets games, I could get out of the Capitol Centre parking lot, onto the Beltway Parkway, faster than any other person.”
I let that sink in. “S. Clay Wilson once told me that I had written the best article anyone ever had about him – and invited me up to a hotel room to get stoned.”
“But how many could there have been?” Inner Daphne asked. “Six? Eight? A dozen?”
“It’s possible Bob is the best unsung writer in America,” Budd said, springing to my defense.
“I want him out of the ‘unsung’ category,” the other Bob said, “so I can be a contenda.”
“The problem is,” Large Victor said, “ at the annual convention, no one shows up for the awards ceremony because accepting one means being disqualified from membership.”

Season of Giving

S. Clay Wilson, the legendary and highly influential underground cartoonist, who created Cap’n Pissgums, Star-Eyed Stella, Ruby the Dyke, and — shilling for this very web site — the Checkered Demon, remains disabled from a traumatic brain injury suffered 12-years-ago. He and his wife are dependent on SSI and contributions to the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust, 3434-16 St., SF, CA 94114. Why not send one?

This Writing Life iv

“Have you read my book yet?” She had switched from Christian bondage novels to a defense of Jews against charges of waging a war on Christmas.
“Have you read any of mine?” I said.
“There you are.”
“Tell you what,” she said. “Send me one, and I’ll read a chapter, and you can read a chapter in mine, and we’ll discuss them.”
“But you already refused to swap books, and I BOUGHT yours. Plus I already know Irving Berlin wrote ‘White Christmas.’”
Forgiveness, I thought. So I asked where to begin.

Adventures in Marketing: Week 240

Sold an IWKYA to a basketball pal, who’d liked the one he’d purchased previously enough to buy one for a friend.
Gave a “Cheesesteak” to a Philadelphia-rooted, newly connected-to correspondent, whose wife liked the title so much she bought TWO copies for friends of theirs. (Unfortunately, she bought from Amazon, which only has copies because it acquired them from my seriously discredited “distributor,” making it unclear in whose pocket the proceeds will end up. I asked, but he didn’t answer.)

In other news…
1.) Faithful readers may recall my NYC friend, who, once she had released “Goshkin” from quarantine, had it in line to read behind “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and readings for two Bible study groups. Well, she has begun it (“So fine,” she reports), but it is competing for attention with the collected poetry of Emily Dickinson and a “witty guide to correct punctuation.”
2.) An honored novelist friend writes he found Goshkin “good company” and encourages him (and, by extension, me) to keep writing. “How will he process the world” he asks, “if he’s no longer putting it into sentences?”
3.) Usually, when I post praise of my work, as I just did, I expect two-to-six “Like”s, all from the same small pool. So imagine my surprise when praise for “Goshkin” posted by the Croatian artist/cartoonist to whom I’d sent a copy received 17. Unfortunately, balance sheet-wise, almost all of it seems to have come residents of the former Yugoslavia, where copies are not readily available.


Off the Road

My other piece in the current First of the Month resulted from a request to contributors to watch and comment of the You Tube available documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone,” about Jack Kerouac and the writing of “Big Sur.” The link is:

“One Fast Move or I’m Gone”: Kerouac and Big Sur

My piece begins:
When I got to Berkeley, September ‘68, Adele’s crowd used to swap stories about whose trip to Big Sur had taken the longest. Drugs usually had something to do with it.


I have two pieces in the latest First of the Month. Here’s the link to the first:

Gentlemen[1] (Author Keeps Punching)

It begins:
The basement had bare concrete floor. bare plywood walls. Ceiling beams lay exposed. Pipes showed here and wires there. Storage cartons rimmed the perimeter, reliquaries for the bones of books Shemp’d authored. Dust a more likely outcome than university archive.
You know what this place needs? He stepped back from stationary bike and three rounds heavy bag. Fight posters. From Philly. From the ‘50s and ‘60s

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.”

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.