Mrs. T and I returned from Maine to Connecticut this afternoon and found a package on our front porch that contained the first finished copy of Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. I took it out of the envelope and handed it to her, and she turned to the dedication page. “I had to look at my page first,” she said with a grin.
We sat on the couch and passed the book back and forth in silence for a few minutes. What I felt is not to be put in words, but I doubt that any moment in an author’s life is more purely pleasurable. No matter whether you’ve written two books or twenty, you never get blasé about holding the latest one in your hands for the first time.
Afterward I took my copy of Duke outside and snapped a photo of it. Then I went back into the house and sent this e-mail to my colleagues at Gotham Books:
I just got home and opened your package. It’s the most beautiful-looking book I’ve ever had anything to do with. Bless you all for helping to make it possible.
Whatever happens to Duke in the days and weeks to come, I’m as happy right now as it’s possible to be.
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The dedication page of Duke: