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April 23, 2004

TT: More adventures of an author

The UPS man brought me a couple of boxes' worth of hardcover copies of The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, and I knew that the inevitable moment had come at last: my book has been remaindered. I can't complain, really, since The Skeptic stayed in print for a year and a half, got terrific reviews, and is now available in a handsome-looking trade paperback. Still, you can't help but feel a twinge of dismay when you open the form letter from your publisher advising you that your beloved baby will soon be piled high on the discount tables, there to be sold for humiliatingly low prices. No matter how good a run you had--and I had a better one than I ever dared to hope--the party always ends.

Fortunately, I have A Terry Teachout Reader to distract me, and I also plan to find solace in schadenfreude. I linked a few months ago to a cruelly funny poem by Clive James called "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered." Now that I have been delivered into the company of mine enemies, I shall take comfort in the concluding stanza:

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error--
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
By the memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.

So there. And should you drop by my place to see the Teachout Museum, be sure to ask for an inscribed copy. I've got plenty.

Posted April 23, 2004 10:09 AM

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