The reading for the remarkable new collection of essays, Every Father’s Daughter: 24 Writers Remember Their Fathers — which takes place at least in part at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 23 at Woodstock’s Golden Notebook — will be an historic occasion according the book’s Kingston-based publisher.
“Anthologies like this are one of the most difficult kind of books to publicize,” said Bruce McPherson of McPherson & Company, which has become recognized as one of the nation’s top small publishing houses since winning the national Book Award several years back. “You can’t get all the authors together for a book launch…”
McPherson said he tried a soft launch at the recent Associated Authors Writing Conference in Minneapolis, where quite a few of his two dozen were in attendance. But then he got a cool idea.
“We asked our authors who could be available this Saturday at an independent book store of their choice. We contacted the bookstores,” McPherson said. “We’ll be holding simultaneous readings from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. in eight different locations.”
Continuing, he added that the Golden Notebook event featuring psychologist/author Nancy Jainchill will be moderated by the anthology’s editor, Margaret McMullan, via Skype out of Indianapolis, and will be held simultaneous with other readings from the likes of California, Boston, Louisville, Kentucky, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Following an hour dedicated to the local, each event will spend its second hour in a Q & A with audiences able to engage authors across the country.
As for the local event, where McPherson himself will be, he added that one of the joys involved in publishing Every Father’s Daughter came in the chance to finally meet Jainchill, who he’d been reading for some time. “When we got her photograph in I recognized her,” he added.
Jainchill’s essay in the new book, “Sol’s Exodus,” is a soft-spoken stunner about the ways in which we don’t know those close to us, and can get lost in our own lives for decades. It’s about an only child and an immigrant father of complex birth, trying to get along. And not for years. And lessons learned.
It’s one of 24 highlights in an engaged and engaging collection that mixes original pieces with excerpts from published memoirs, and includes the writing of such contemporary greats as Jane Smiley, Alexandra Styron, Bobby Ann Mason, Joyce Maynard, Jane Anne Phillips, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Alice Munro.
“After my father died, I couldn’t read or write, perhaps because, in the end, my father was unable to read or write. I didn’t know it then, but I was looking for a collection of intensely personal essays, written by great women writers telling me about their fathers and how they came to know their fathers, a collection which might help me make some kind of sense of my own very close relationship with my father. I wanted to know from women, replacement sisters, if they had similar relationships with their fathers as I had with mine. Or, if their relationships were altogether different, I wanted to know how exactly these relationships were different,” writes McMullan in her introduction, as eloquent as this who’s who of great women’s writing — and all writing — these days. “Eventually, I contacted the authors I loved and admired — some of them friends, some of them friends of my father’s. I never wanted this to feel like an assignment, but I suppose it was. I simply asked these women to tell me about their fathers. They took it from there.”
Nancy Jainchill reads from her portion of Every Father’s Daughter: 24 Writers Remember Their Fathers 4 p.m.-6 p.m., alongside Skyped readings from seven other bookstores across the nation, at Golden Notebook, 29 Tinker Street in Woodstock Saturday, May 23. The event is free and open to the public. For further information call 679-8000 or see www.goldennotebook.com.