Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Believe The Hype

Tim Russert is peddling a new book, Widsom of Our Fathers. The p.r. spin is that Russert's previous book, Big Russ and Me, resulted in an immediate, spontaneous outpouring of letters and e-mail messages from people who were touched by Russert's blather:

The book sold over a half-million copies. Fans waited hours at signings. But it was the 60,000 people who sent letters and emails that opened Russert's eyes.

"People saw the book as an invitation to talk about their dad," he said. "They would say to me, 'You know, it was great learning about Big Russ. He's your guy. Let me tell you about Big Mike. Let me tell you about Big Irv. Let me tell you about Big Marty.' And they all had a story."

So Russert decided to publish the best stories in a second book: "Wisdom of Our Fathers -- Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons."

As Pumpkinhead himself tells it,

I didn't think I would write another book. But when I read the letters I received from readers, I realized I had no choice.

I received close to sixty thousand letters and e-emails, and I read them all.

Don't believe the hype. Here's what Tiny Tim said fourteen months ago:

Dear Reader,

Two years ago, I wrote a book about my father: Big Russ and Me: Father and Son, Lessons of Life. I have now decided to put together a new book in which a wide variety of sons and daughters will have a chance to write about their fathers. I would like to invite you to be part of this exciting new project, and to spread the word among your friends.

What am I looking for? Stories, lessons, advice or even a favorite saying that made your father special. Feel free to send me a vivid memory, a funny anecdote, or the story of your father's special accomplishment. Maybe he taught you an important lesson -- either with words or by example -- about work, love, kindness, friendship, integrity, faith, or anything else. You could also send me a letter of appreciation that you sent to your father, or a letter you wish you had written. It can even be a eulogy -- or anything else that seems appropriate. What I really care about is that you wrote it.

....I'm not looking for professional writing, but for stories and lessons that useful [sic], original, moving, inspiring, or just plain funny.


It would be easiest if you sent me an e-mail letter at MyDad@BigRussandMe.com in the form of a double-spaced Word document that comes as an attachment, but if you'd rather mail it the old-fashioned way, that's fine, too.

There will be no payment if your letter is used. Instead, I will be making a contribution to The Boys and Girls Club in the name of all the contributors. If I am able to use your letter, I will also be sending you an autographed copy of the book, which is scheduled for Father's Day, 2006....

Many thanks,

Tim Russert

So the outpouring was a wee bit less spontaneous than Tiny Tim would like you to think. At the time Tim already had his book planned (down to the publication date), he didn't have enough spontaneous correspondence to fill a slender volume.

Let's put another quote up on the screen:

I had expected that my book would appeal to readers in my home town of Buffalo, New York, but I didn't know whether the story of a young man coming of age in a blue-collar Irish-Catholic neighborhood, whose father was a truck driver and a sanitation man, would strike a cord [sic] with a wider audience. As soon as I discovered there were many Big Russes out there -- good, industrious, and patriotic men who has [sic] a lot in common with my dad, even if they didn't share his religion or his heritage. [sic] By writing a book about my father, I was affirming not only his life, but the lives of many other fathers as well.

I realized early on that the book was resonating far beyond what I had anticipated. Without intending to, I had given many readers an opportunity -- an invitation, really, to talk about their fathers. They had listened to my story, and now I was listening to theirs.

Didn't know? Unanticipated? Unintended invitation?!?

But didn't you tell Howie the Putz:

And that is essential to understanding why I ask what I ask and why I do what I do, and that this guy called Big Russ has been central to my life and that there are a lot of Big Russes in the country. And I think we're going to find out a whole lot more about that after this book comes out [this month].

Who knew America was full of people who think their fathers are good, industrious and patriotic men? Not Tim!

Faux ignorance is not your strong suit, Timmy.

Nor is writing.

I don't usually ask for research assistance from readers, but if someone could send me a copy of Pumpkinhead's book contracts in the form of a double-spaced Word document that comes as an attachment....

No comments: