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MIA on the Interwebs…

by Nicolai on August 9, 2011

I’m in shock. The Cincinnati Kid is wrapping up and I wanted to add a blurb about the author – you know…that guy who wrote thirty books – four of which were made into movies – and was nominated for a Pulitzer. Scouring the internet yielded a three-sentence blurb on Wikipedia, a note about the four movies on IMDB, and a couple used books here and there. I couldn’t find a complete or even decent partial list of what he had written.

I decided to go old-school and try some actual research – card catalogs, smelly books, rolls of microfiche, dusty backrooms and crawlspaces at the library. So I walk in to a big college library, plop myself down in front of a living, breathing librarian, and explain how I haven’t opened a library book in fifteen years and have no idea how one goes about searching old newspapers, magazines, and extracts from those 200 volume rows of bricks in the reference section.

The library is all computerized and here I had yet another computer telling me Richard Jessup essentially doesn’t exist. One of the only hits sent us to a row of bricks – 118 tomes with biographical blurbs about all “contemporary” writers. I find his name in the index – a separate volume – and it just states: Richard Jessup, obituary – v.108. The librarian says, “well that’s not good.” I open volume 108, flip to the “J” section, and his name is not there – no name, no obituary. I walk out of the library with the title of an older edition of that same reference set and instructions to see if local libraries have it. I’m also informed of a database on the college website that searches archived newspapers.

I’d like to know what all my old professors have to say now about how internet research is not valid in academic papers – Wikipedia just slaughtered all that the institution of academic research had to offer.

Anyhow, this strengthens my resolve to locate and resurrect published writers that are in danger of falling victim to True Blood’s “true death.” When I chose the first bunch of books to republish I hadn’t even looked at biographical data or availability of other works – my filtering process at that time was: Pick random book from my secret list (LONG list)–>Is book available in eBook format?–>Is the copyright expiration confirmed?–>Republish book. It just so happens that two of the first three writers I randomly chose were in real danger of being forgotten.

Makes me wonder how many other writers are slipping through the cracks at this very moment. It also makes me glad I didn’t write a book after 1923 and then die before the advent of the word processor.

The good news is The Cincinnati Kid will be finished tonight and available in the next few weeks. I’m also starting a Rejuvenation Project on Richard Jessup, so expect to see more of his body of work over the years.



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