Motherly Love

Sweet and sour(dough), plus a new pub date!

Happy Mother’s Day, friends. I realize this is not an easy day for many people—including those who have lost a beloved mother or maternal figure, those who are estranged from or never knew the women who birthed/raised them, and those who wanted but did not get the chance to be somebody’s mom. If you do have a mother figure in your life who means something to you, I hope you’re able to tell her that today, one way or another. And for those of you who are mothers, I hope your nearest and dearest treat you like queens today and every day.

Mad respect to all of you (dads too) attempting to be good parents and children and partners and workers and home-schoolers and all the things we’re called on to be these days. (I’m just trying to keep the sourdough starter alive—it’s like a third child at this point.) I’d send you all flowers if I could.

(Flower arrangement by Ursula, designer/proprieter of fleursDC, a local business I discovered just in time to have the above arrangement delivered to my mother at her locked-down assisted-living facility.)

My relationship with my own mother has been mostly vexed and complicated, which is one reason I wanted to write about what it felt like to clean 50 years’ worth of stuff out of her house. Writing about that gave me a chance to confront some of my feelings about my mother more directly, and to try to understand her a little better—and then look beyond our individual dynamics to the bigger forces that pushed her to become the consumer she was.

The result—now officially titled Clutter: An Untidy History—will be out at the end of the summer, on September 1, a month early. The good folks at Belt Publishing pushed the pub date up, which is aces with me. Hard to believe that the book will be out in the world, in some kind of final form, in less than four months. It’s taken years to get here, and I feel very lucky to have made it this far. If you are able to pre-order it, or ask your local library or bookstore to order it when circumstances allow—or just spread the word to anybody who might enjoy a brisk and bracing read about how we wound up obsessed by/slaves to clutter—my publisher and I would be thrilled.

And if you’re an assignment editor and would like to see a galley, please let me know—or get in touch directly with the wonderful Martha Bayne, Belt’s marketing director!

Meanwhile, Darcy has some page proofs to check.

Some links worth your time this week:

1) My friend and former Chronicle of Higher Ed colleague Marc Parry did a neat roundup of how archivists are working to preserve all kinds of voices from the pandemic. (This story made me want to dust off my reporter’s notebook and get back on the library/archive beat. I have some ideas…)

2) Pandemic publishing: Some modest good news for the book industry: Print sales rose last week, according to Publishers Weekly. Meanwhile, in less good news for those of us with fall pub dates, some publishers have bumped spring books back a few months in hopes of waiting out the worst of the pandemic. Close to home, my neighborhood indie, East City Bookshop, and a couple of other local businesses have teamed up to safely coordinate orders and pickups. Ingenuity abounds in these strange times.

3) Tech is keeping a lot of us connected to friends, family, colleagues, but Zoom can be exhausting, especially for introverts.

4) Who’s Zoomin’ Who? OTOH, the ubiquity of Zoom has given me an excuse to blast this Aretha Franklin classic while warming up for yet another remote yoga class:

Be well, and thanks for reading!