Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Searching for Pete Nelson--There's More on His Resume Than I Thought You Were Dead

I've been thinking all along that Pete Nelson, author of the new novel, I Thought You Were Dead, was a first novelist. It's the #1 Indie Next book for April, but it certainly didn't get all those reads from track record.

If you read the flap copy for Nelson's new novel, or rather, a love story with a protagonist who has a different name, he's written "several books." But if you look at the author bio on our bookseller's web site for Nelson on Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis, you'll find out he's written 18! This guy is a seasoned writer and it shows. No first-timer's luck involved.

I only started to think about this when I was writing back and forth with Rick Reiken, author of my favorite book of spring, Day for Night, and he saw on my signature (where I list the last ten or so books I've read, with info if we're doing some sort of event) and wrote the following:

"I know him from around here - actually it was through Elinor Lipman that I met him, about 10 years ago. I needed a dog sitter on short notice and Ellie arranged it because she knew Pete had a dog and would be mellow enough to deal with my dog's separation anxiety issues. Incidentally, that dog of mine (a basset-German shepherd mix -- he looked like a giant basset hound), who passed away a few years ago, at age 17, was named Boz, and many people called him Boswell."

Lipman comes up because Reiken knows I know her. In fact, she went up to him in Northampton and said she was excited about Day for Night because Daniel and the Boswell folks had already talked it up to her. And that Boswell thing? Sigh.

So I write to Lipman. Here's what I find out:

"Peter was the first writer I met when I moved to Northampton in 1987. (We had the same editor, Mindy Warner, at Viking, and she put us in touch). Peter was well-known as a writer, singer and host to almost every act who/which came to the Iron Horse and couldn't afford a hotel. But more famous than Peter was Stella, his yellow lab. He had a loooooonnnnng coffee hour every day at a restaurant on Main Street, and Stella would wait patiently outside the door, pre-leash law. So well-known and beloved that when Stella died, there was a feature about her in the local paper, so I guess one could say she got an obituary. Of course, she wore a bandana."

Most folks don't know or remember that Lipman published a book of short stories at Penguin before she moved to Pocket for her first novel, Then She Found Me. Which was 20 years ago! Her new book, The Family Man, is just out in paper and is one of my book club picks for spring summer. Come into the store and pick up my handout (Or maybe that's another blog post).

Oh, Stella! Nelson's dog makes the reader fall in love with her the way a whole town apparently did.

Still looking for the obit. I'll let you know if we find it.

Pete Nelson is appearing at the store with Joe Meno on Tuesday, April 20th, at 7 PM.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Daniel- I actually have a copy of Elinor Lipman's short stories Into Love and out Again that I bought, signed by the author, at a used bookstore for $4.90. What a deal! I didn't realize this is the 20th anniversary of Then She Found Me, which remains my favorite Elinor Lipman of all time. 20 years! (But don't even get me started on the movie. Yikes!)I remember selling it when it first came out. Jenny C.