I got some exciting news since the last newsletter: My book now has a cover design! And a fantastic cover it is, too. Thanks to David Wilson, creative director at Belt Publishing, for coming up with the perfect design.
The book has also acquired an official title and a pub date, which make it seem…real, for lack of a better word. It’s been living in my head and on my computer for so long, it’s scary-exciting to think it will be out there in the world as a physical/digital object soonish.
Clutter: A History will be out Oct. 6, 2020. Read more about it (you can even pre-order it, if you are so inclined).
While I wait for edits and such, I’ve been following some dramatic situations involving (separately) the National Archives and the Romance Writers of America. Some related links work your time this week, plus a couple of things more uplifting:
1) Joe Heim of The Washington Post (my hometown paper and former employer) broke a big story this week that the National Archives’ blurred out the words “Trump,” “vagina,” and “pussy” in a promotional exhibit display that featured a photo from the 2017 Women’s March.
2) A NARA spox told Heim the Archives had been trying to sidestep political controversy. Instead, it caused one: The reaction from historians, archivists, activists, and almost everybody else was understandably fierce. Even the Washington Post editorial board weighed in.
3) NARA apologized. As it should have. Will that be enough? Probably not. I expect to see more fallout from this.
4) One winner here: journalism. Joe Heim’s account of how he got the story reveals a textbook case of a good reporter doing his job. (He also put in a plea to support local journalism, which produces stories like this.)
5) Lost in the controversy was the exhibit itself: “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” dedicated to the suffrage movement. I can only imagine how the curators feel. The exhibit, which I haven’t seen yet, sounds excellent. (Read Jenny Schuessler’s NYT review of it and two other suffrage exhibits currently on in DC.)
6) Because I live in DC, know many civil servants, and sometimes write about NARA and other Federal agencies working in my spheres of interest (including museums and archives, humanities and the arts), I’ve seen up close how tricky it can be to operate in the current political environment. Fear (of catching the wrong sort of attention, or of being defunded) can warp and derail decision-making. Perry Collins, a former NEH staffer, summed up the danger:
The Washington Post@washingtonpostNational Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump https://t.co/9XTBbEZNqc https://t.co/KHRqFBWz3b
7) Meanwhile, over in Romancelandia, all hell’s been breaking loose. I won’t go into all the details here—there are a lot of them—but anybody interested in diversity and inclusion in publishing (and in professional associations in general) should be aware of what’s happening. The best summary I’ve come across is this deep dive by Kelly Faircloth in Jezebel. (See also the #RWAShitShow hashtag on Twitter.)
8) Speaking of romance, it’s not a genre I’m well read in, though I did write about it for the Chronicle of Higher Ed a few years ago (“In a Plot Twist, Scholars Get Serious About Romance”). But I have a forthcoming postapocalyptic romance title on my TBR list: Deal With the Devil, the first in the “Mercenary Librarians” series by Kit Rocha (the pen name of the writing duo Bree Bridges and Donna Herren). Honestly, they had me at “mercenary librarians.”
9) Some good enviro news, which we could all use more of: The state of Florida has protected 20,000 acres of Everglades that was going to be used for oil production.
10) Angry that Greta Gerwig was shut out of an Oscar nomination for “Little Women”? I am. Thank goodness the literary world has better sense when it comes to recognizing female talent.
Thanks for reading!