Two days ago, Wednesday, December 14, 2016, I took my newly printed book, about 30 copies to Fontana's in Maple Shade. Every two or three months, those students who lived in Maple Shade and went to Merchantville High School, graduating in 1963, get together for lunch. I thought it was the perfect venue to launch my book because, of course, we all shared that period of time - leaving our teens and entering adulthood.
About 30 people attend at any given month, and as in high school, I generally sit with the women who were my best friends back in the first 3 years of the 1960's, Phyllis Ryan, Terry Donovan, Chris Gilbreath, and half a dozen other women I was friends with if not Besties, such as Barbara, Sue, Phyllis and Gail. The women have different last names now because they are married. The fellows I was friends with were Ron Williams, Romeo Ventura, and Berry Robey. Some of these folks have other connections to me or lived near my old neighborhood, Roland Avenue. For example, Ron married Joanne Nicholas, whose older brother was my ex-husband's best friend.
The friend I stayed closest with over the years was Chris Gilbreath. She was my neighbor on Roland Ave. and my number one best friend. Phyllis and I stayed friends for some years because we worked together at W. B. Saunders Publishing Co. on Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pa. from 1963 until I married in 1967.
It is very unnerving to launch a memoir. Novels are simple because it is all made-up - the plot, the characters, and you'd have to be a pretty deep reader to find the personal about a writer in a novel, but at memoir like 1969: A Road Trip, is deeply personal, and also, a bit of a fiction, because the person that you are when you are 21 to 25, is deeply buried inside someone completely new by the time you are my age, which is 71! It is very apt to compare it to a metamorphosis such as the caterpillar to the moth. Perhaps in reverse is more accurate because you begin as a beautiful winged creature and are forged into a creeping leaf browsing cow of the canopy.
Anyhow, for better or worse, the book is launched. And, finally, finished. And I am ready to move on to a new book! Yes, despite my assertions that I would never do it again, I am already writing the chapters in my head. I have a mission. But I am impeded by needing to get set up correctly from the start this time so as not to end up in the morass I endured last time with too many files flying back and forth between me, editors, and the printer. Many important corrections were left out of the final printing because, I think, the printer used an old file rather than a corrected and updated one. Next year, I can go to DPE in Cherry Hill and get the work done for $200 less and there was a much more helpful fellow there, named Ed, to work with, not the impersonal anonymity I found at Perfect Printing.
So, I finished a very interesting book called A Life Discarded, by Alexander Masters, about the person who wrote 148 diaries discovered in a dumpster in England. He writes it like a kind of mystery, as he reads through the diaries, he discovers clues to the identity of the writer. This was bound to interest me as I have a trunk of diaries covering 50 years, my entire adulthood. I have just begun Born To Run, the autobiography of Bruce Springsteen which I am enjoying very much, his childhood and mine being somewhat similar as are our ages, and both of us New Jerseyans, though I was born in Philadelphia. I also like how he weaves family history into his narrative. This is good weather for reading as it is cold and less enticing to chuck everything and go for a walk in the woods.
Had lunch at Local Links in Haddon Heights last week, always delicious, and shopped for stocking stuffers at the Free Trade Store, next door. I bought a charming Retablos, a little box that houses the nativity made in Mexico. I had one years ago that was a gift to me, but I haven't seen it recently, so it was an impulse purchase.
No historic places recently, but I did write a short piece for a Christmas brunch I'm attending on Monday about my favorite Christmas and it features the Winky Dink screen and Bertie the Bunyip! Anyone remember these?
Christmas is only a week away! If you still need gifts, try the Mill Race Shops in Mount Holly or the Free Trade Store in Haddon Heights on Station Avenue, they have jewelry, coffee, chocolates, clothes, all sorts of interesting things at fair prices!
Happy Trails! If you are reading Bruch Springsteens autobiography too and want to talk about it or about my book, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though don't old your breath - the same way commercials have ruined tv, ads have ruined e-mail and the slog through the detritus makes me more and more reluctant to bother with it - still, if I know you are writing, I will check it out!)