Monday, October 01, 2012

Failure is the Key to Success

So says Jonathan Evison, author of one of my favorite books, ALL ABOUT LULU (Softskull, 2008), a quirky coming-of-age-love-story which I reviewed two years ago HERE.

He should know--Lulu, his "debut" novel, was his ninth book. The first eight didn't make it out the drawer. But since Lulu made her entrance four years ago, he's been a writing machine, publishing WEST OF HERE (Algonquin, 2011), a sweeping tale with over 40 characters, and THE REVISED FUNDAMENTALS of CAREGIVING (Algonquin, 2012). At least two more are clearing the pipeline. He noted he's "always working', usually on three projects at a time.

I had the pleasure of hearing Jonathan speak at the Baltimore Book Festival, a weekend of all things, well, books. Across the street, a jazz band tooted foot-tapping music at Centerstage's theater festival, but even above the trumpets' wails, Jonathan kept me rapt. He talked about how family history and grief shape his writing, and place and environment. He spoke of persistence in writing what he is called to write, and not focusing on publication, fame, and reward. Perhaps he did not realize it while speaking, but his words encouraged the writers in the audience looking to tell honest stories.

Jonathan is a gracious writer. He took time to speak with my daughter Lea, and even pose for a picture. Lea was curious--why did he always wear his hat? And while he did not answer the question directly--it turns out the hat was his grandfather's, a "cheap" hat meant to be crushed and shoved in pockets that has withstood over fifty years of use--perhaps he did. Because like that hat, Jonathan Evison's stories are timeless and sturdy.

Twenty pages into REVISED FUNDAMENTALS, I am hooked. No surprise there. More later this month with a review. Peace...


  1. That is so great. Jonathan sounds like a wonderful writer - glad you're enjoying his latest book!
    Were you at this book festival THIS past weekend? Cause that's how I spent my weekend as well. Not in Baltimore, of course, but one here. What an absolutely fabulous way to enjoy a weekend! So glad you and Lea took the opportunity - and what a cutie-pie she is!

  2. Awesome! I can see why he'd wear that hat. A good history and it looks great.
    The book festival sounds like a good time.

  3. I love that hat! What a cool guy. Thanks for letting me know about this fun author, Linda.


  4. . . . thanks for the kind words, linda! . . . it was a pleasure talking with you and your daughter!

  5. What a lovely and generous introduction to Jonathon Evison. I love his hat, and the story behind it. I am looking forward to your review of his latest published work.
    And how lovely to think that failure is the key to success. Thank you both.