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May 12, 2009

TT: That's all he wrote

armstrongcornet.jpgOn Sunday I read the page proofs of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong for the last time and made my final corrections. (For the record, I added some commas and cut a half-dozen repeated words and phrases.) Today I'll be sending the proofs back to the Boston office of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I'll double-check the index as soon as it's ready, but otherwise the tinkering is over. I'm through with Pops.

How do I feel? Very good--though not, I trust, unreasonably so. I made a point of setting the proofs aside for a couple of weeks in order to let them cool down. Then I read them in a single day-long sitting, hoping to recapture my sense of the book as a whole. I liked what I saw this time around. The narrative is fast-moving, the facts as straight as I could make them, the prose style formal (I don't like chummy biographers) but not stiff. The design of the book is gorgeous--I love how the photos are integrated into the text. I think that Armstrong's personality comes through clearly. So, of course, does my own view of the man and his work, but while I took great pains to correct the record whenever necessary, I also went out of my way not to be argumentative. No scores are settled in Pops. This book is about him, not me.

As I mentioned the other day, I'm already planning my next book--perhaps even my next three books--and I also have The Letter on my mind. Tomorrow I'll hit the road again, and I won't be back in New York (save for a couple of quick touchdowns) until well after the curtain goes up in Santa Fe. All this means that I won't have much time to brood about Pops, which is just as it should be. What's done is done. I hope the reading public is pleased with the results, but even if they're not, I can't do anything about it now. The cord is cut. It's time to move on to the next part of my life.

Posted May 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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