Unstrung

May 5th, 2006 | The Artistic Condition

funhome
The UPS guy delivered a copy of my new book, “Fun Home” yesterday. In all my years of publishing books, I’ve never had a hardcover one. It’s pretty beautiful. The book designer and the cover designer did a very elegant job. I opened it with some trepidation, because whenever I look at a new book all I can see are the mistakes. And I did find one straight off, but it was a pretty minor continuity detail.

I’m deeply pleased, but not elated, for some reason. I feel a bit like Mr. Earbrass, the protagonist of my favorite Edward Gorey book, The Unstrung Harp. When he spots a copy of his latest novel in the window of a bookseller’s, Mr. E. is overcome by “a state of extreme and pointless embarrassment.”

25 Responses to “Unstrung”

  1. Ellen O. says:

    Wow. Congratulations on hardcover. Quite the groundbreaking achievement.

    I wouldn’t sweat your lack of elation. Maybe it’s the current state of the world or a perimenopausal thing, but I’ve found elation to be an elusive entity of late.

    There’s also something about working on a project for years and years that sets up unattainably-high emotional expections. (But you already know that.)

    Or maybe it’s just exhaustion.

    In any case, like good wine and cheese, I bet Fun Home will only get better with age.

    Ellen

  2. Anonymous says:

    I relate to the only seeing the mistakes part. I help produce a quarterly publication and EVERY TIME it comes out, the mistakes seem like the most obvious things.

    I can’t wait to see the book! I tend to keep my book collecting to a minimum, but Fun Home will definitely be an exception!

  3. Anonymous says:

    applause

    VL

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cool! The next step is your first sighting of it in a bookstore 😉 I haven’t published in the main?stream press like you, but what you describe is sort of like finishing a thesis or dissertation…anticlimactic to say the least. The process is what really drives the writing – the end product in a way seems so “little”.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to it! Sara
    http://www.saraskates.typepad.com

  5. Jaibe says:

    Given the subject matter I could see elation being a slow emotion to build vs. embarassment. But maybe after all your relatives have checked in, one day you’ll see a big stack of them sitting in front of you at a book signing and a big line of people waiting to buy them & then you’ll feel elated.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is good news. I’m really looking forward to it. I even ordered one online from an evil corporation, just to get one locked in — which means I’ll have to buy one at my local bookstore anyway, out of Mo-like guilt.
    –MC

  7. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait to own it.

  8. amysue says:

    Happy new book and ditto on the “can’t wait” until it shows up here.

    I still remember picking up my first copy of DTWOF in Cambridge (at New Words) probbaly 20 years or so ago and still enjoy reading it today, even more so. This new endeavor looks to be even more special.

  9. kate says:

    Can’t wait to get it, congratulations Alison.
    It looks gorgeous from here. Alison Earbrass has a nice ring to it.

  10. rebecca says:

    congratulations!! i am so looking forward to reading it.

    lack of elation is quite nerve-wracking. i got the okay to hand in my dissertation a few days ago, and ended up feeling really upset because i wasn’t elated and felt like i should be, and wanted to know why in the hell i wasn’t. ah dear.

    i hope the elation hits you soon, and, if it doesn’t, you learn to accept its strange absence.

  11. Congratulations!

    Just read the article about you in “Bitch” and am salivating over the release of Fun Home. Can hardly wait for June to arrive.

    Have read many artists/authors who’s reaction to publication/shows/etc. are exactly like yours. Ironic, no? Spend so much time creating pieces/manuscripts, only to feel deflated once they’re on display.

  12. Jaibe says:

    Hi —

    Could you get Powells to put a few less spoilers on their blurb page for your book?? The “review” is a real problem. Thanks,

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    Long time reader of DTWOF. Just ordered Fun Home. Have you ever been to comic con in San Diego? Are you going to be at the one coming up in July? I would love to get my copy signed!

  14. Anonymous says:

    holy crap! i had no idea it would be such a hefty tome. mazel tov!

    the book’s completion makes me realize just how long i’ve been gone from vermont. sigh. hope all’s well on the mountain.

    *tania

    ps. my favorite Gorey is The Curious Sofa.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I read in an interview you gave to afterellen.com that you were going on a book tour, starting in June. Where can we find out where and when you will be appearing? Congratulations on your new book.

    Dana in CA

  16. Bookishgrump says:

    AB,
    It sounds like the accomplishment will take time to sink in. Try not to push yourself to be “perfectly self-actualized about it all” (a la Mo and her bathing suit blues). Do something else that you enjoy doing anyway, and maybe elation over the book will sneak up on you.

    (Oh yeah — congratulations!)

    Jaibe,
    The Publisher’s Weekly review on the Powell’s site does reveal a lot, doesn’t it? The Powell’s marketing department would likely want to know that some Bechdel fans consider it a spoiler.

    Their e-mail address is Marketing/PR: marketing@powells.com.

    The toll-free customer service line is Toll Free: (800) 291-9676.

  17. Hey Alison –

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to reading “Fun Home.” And your comment about “The Unstrung Harp” struck a chord – I read it for the first time last summer at the Gorey museum in Yarmouthport, Mass. Have you been there? I stood in the library reading it and laughing with a sick kind of writer’s recognition.

    Best wishes with the book!
    Paula (formerly known as Paoul)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations!

    I’m married to a novelist, and half our friends are writers of something or other, and from my observations The Unstrung Harp is the single most perfect description of writing a novel I have ever encountered.

    Also, nearly as funny as DTWOF.

  19. e_journeys says:

    Congratulations!

    I wouldn’t sweat the lack of elation, especially if you’re decompressing from the whole process. There’s only so much adrenalin to go around.

    Like amysue I have fond memories of New Words from my Massachusetts days — and happily wear the signed T-shirt you did for their 25th year. Learned recently that they’ve moved to the YWCA building.

    Am adding The Unstrung Harp to Fun Home on my Must Order List. Another novel that hits the writing process on the nail for me is Ursula Hegi’s Intrusions.

  20. Farah says:

    Congratulations.

    Must get a copy.

  21. Jeff says:

    Allison–I work for a book agent and your galley arrived late last week as a gift to my Boss. While Boss isn’t into the graphic-novel trend, so I snatched it up and am devouring FUN HOME. As a recent college grad who hopes to continue my education through cultural criticism (someday…through a Master’s maybe?), I find your book pivotal in its blending of literary and visual strength.

    Bravo!

    Will there be more?

  22. valentina says:

    there will be an italian translation, I hope. 🙂

  23. sewdorky says:

    Fun Home is absolutely wonderful (lucky enough to read an advance copy). Looking forward to coming to your University Boo Store event in Seattle!

  24. Lisa says:

    Just finished Fun Home. It was amazing!! I couldn’t put it down and the ending totally made me cry. I’ve been reading your strip for many years now & as soon as I saw the review in the NY Times I ran out to get the book. I’ve always especially enjoyed your books because I think we’re almost the same age (I was born in 1961). I was in college during the Women’s Pentagon Action too, and I also came out before I actually was involved with a woman. I’m always amazed by all the details you remember from childhood and college, like the books everyone was reading and the lines from “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch” (I loved Jan, too).

    Awesome book!!
    Lisa Ochs
    San Francisco

  25. K.B. says:

    Speaking of mistakes: I found one, too: on page 77 A.B. has five fingers (not including the thumb) on her left hand… 😉