#russbooks Day 2: live from Bat Country

I wish I could say that because I write fiction in my first-floor study and run a publishing house out of the basement (or the “terrace level”, as the realtor who sold us the place liked to call it, because two sides have daylight and you can walk out to the back yard) that everything in my house is all literary, and the event of liveblogging the book collection of a well-known Book Insider is treated with appropriate reverence. But after I bring in Box #2 and take the obligatory Box Mugshot

#russbooks Box #2
The red scrawl across the top is “Russ”, in RussScrawl

I sit down in front of Twitter, and this conversation transpires:

barbarfriendish Where did I leave off yesterday? “in bat country” @rachaelish says… ha-ha. #russbooks

and immediately Rachael’s cell rings. Rachael is The Coolest Kid at Riverwood HS, and her phone rings a lot. This morning the conversation is with a friend who wants to discuss taking gym as a summer school course over the interwebs. (Yes, you can do that at Riverwood. They’re very progressive. I wish I had been able to take gym over the internet when I was in HS. Think of the humiliation I would have been spared.)

But I digress, as usual. Finally the conversation ends and I open the box:

Inside #russbooks Box #2
Ooooo…what’s THAT???

Now, as everyone knows, I am a Fantasy Geek, so my eye is drawn by something stronger than gravity to the book on the left:

barbarfriendish Book #12 The Keep/Jennifer Egan. This ARC has seen some action, including page turn-downs. I’m intrigued. #russbooks

Rachael is a sometime Fantasy Geek herself, so before I get a chance to do more than give the book more than a once-over, she has, as the members of her generation like to say, yoinked it.

What happens next is one of those magical moments in the development of an aspiring writer. Rachael learns the cold hard truth of ARCs.

Rachael learns about ARCs
There’s an error right on the Damn First Page!

ARCs, for those of you not in the book trade who have wandered in here because you heard there were Free Drinks,

–everybody in the book trade, go have a drink–

are “Advance Review Copies”: early-development-stage books given out by publishers to reviewers, tastemakers, booksellers, and anybody else who they think might help them sell books in one way or another. They are very much unfinished, even though in many cases they really look like they’ve got it together. There are guaranteed to be errors. It’s understood. The practice of producing ARCs allows targeted people to read the book before it comes out. Russ said later, of this particular ARC,

russmarshalek@barbarfriendish the arc of “the keep” has an unclosed parenthetical aside as errata. it kept me up all night.


The Keep isn’t fantasy, but it looks interesting–both in its own right and as an ARC. We’ll be discussing it further, later, but for now I’ve got to move ahead.

The next book looks a bit beaten up, but a closer look reveals a cover skillfully designed to look like a rather shelf-worn dust jacket.

barbarfriendish Book #13 Bee Season/Myla Goldberg–signed. #russbooks

Once I read the back cover, I understand: it’s Another Damn Spelling Bee Story. Am I the only person who is tired of stories about kids in spelling bees? Meanwhile Rachael has yoinked another book from the box:

barbarfriendish @rachaelish jumps the gun and pulls out Book #14 The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide/Douglas Adams. I’m on my own now… #russbooks

As you know, Bob, I’m a Geek. And I know that the litfic kids don’t think SFF is Cool Enough, not even when it’s character-driven, literary, philosophical, or (my fave) all of the above. So does this book in this box constitute a Guilty Pleasure?

With the next book, we’re back on familiar turf: Southern Lit.

barbarfriendish Book #15 Bastard out of Carolina/Dorothy Allison. This is a definite Russ Book… #russbooks

Now, I have a degree in English, but if I were stranded at a bus station with the Douglas Adams Omnibus and a work of Southern Lit, it would require a blizzard of several days’ duration before I would even consider picking up the latter. I’m just sayin’.

That’s why I publish SFF.


barbarfriendish “Look, it’s me!” says @rachaelish: Book #16 Running With Scissors/Augusten Burroughs. Those who saw today’s blog will understand. #russbooks


"Look, it's me!" says @rachaelish

The Unknown Reader


Not just because of the amusing synchronicity, this book intrigues. We look it over for a while. I am especially amused by the account of redecorating the kitchen. But there’s still one more book in the box:

barbarfriendish Book # 17 Between Here and the Yellow Sea/Nic Pizzolatto #russbooks

And that’s Box #2.

barbarfriendish This was a small box…some interesting turn-downs, some intriguing ARC studies. blog & pix soon… #russbooks

I’ll be doing another box later today…

Back to the beginning of the #russbooks adventure
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3 Comments on “#russbooks Day 2: live from Bat Country”

  1. Alice Says:

    Today while searching though the random stuff Russ left in our spare closet, I found a blank black plastic dvd case sans movie insert or dvd inside. Makes me wonder…what does it MEAN????


  2. […] and other shenanigans from Barbara Friend Ish « Premiering tomorrow: #russbooks #russbooks Day 2: live from Bat Country » #russbooks: Day 1 June 3, 2009 It all happened so […]


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