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April 10, 2013

TT: Status report

As of today, here's how things stand with Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington:

• A pair of top-tier Ellington scholars, Steven Lasker and Brian Priestley, separately proofread and fact-checked the manuscript of Duke sentence by sentence and came back to me with long lists of corrections, queries, and suggested fixes. I bless their names.

• I had my first face-to-face meeting with Gotham's publicity team two weeks ago. They're already lining up the various out-of-town appearances--lectures, signings, radio, TV--that will begin shortly after Duke is published on October 17.

• Amazon made Duke available for pre-ordering on its website last week.

black-and-tan-29-photo-1.jpg• I've found high-quality copies of all but three of the thirty-five "images" that will be interspersed throughout the book. I'm hoping to lock up those three strays by the beginning of next week.

• I expect to receive the copyedited manuscript from Gotham Books sometime today or tomorrow. At that point, I'll start inserting various changes that I've made since handing in the book on February 1. Most are small, but I did uncover a modest amount of new information about Ellington that has turned up in the past couple of months. It's not too late to put it in the book, so I will.

• I've approved the design for the cover of the book, which I'll be posting as soon as we receive permission to use the photograph that will (I hope!) appear on the back cover. Gotham will be e-mailing me sample pages of the interior typographical design later today or tomorrow. At my request, the text of Duke will be composed in Galliard, my favorite typeface.

• I'll return the copyedited manuscript to Gotham on April 22. Shortly after that, Gotham will send me typeset "page proofs" to correct, plus the "flap copy" that will appear on the dust jacket. (It'll be based on the catalog copy for Duke, which I approved back in December.)

Once I've finished with the page proofs, I'm finished with Duke. All that'll be left to do is wait.

In the meantime, I want to share with you the book's two epigraphs. The first is from Somerset Maugham's Don Fernando: "There is one very good thing to be said of posterity, and this is that it turns a blind eye on the defects of greatness."

The second is a line from "We Wear The Mask," Paul Laurence Dunbar's 1895 poem about the lives of blacks in America: We wear the mask that grins and lies.

Between them, I think these two epigraphs suggest much about the life, work, and personality of the enigma who was Duke Ellington.

Posted April 10, 2013 12:00 AM

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