Saturday, February 10, 2007

Major Book Event

Okay, I’m not above name-dropping. (But, then, the list of things I’m above makes short reading.) So I think I ought to mention that my friend Raymond Obstfeld—novelist, nonfiction author, screenwriter, and professor—just had a book debut at #25 on the New York Times Bestseller List. The book is On the Shoulders of Giants, and it covers the Harlem Renaissance—the flowering of African-American literary, musical, entertainment, and sports genius that occurred between the end of World War I and the Great Depression (and continued to reverberate long after).

In addition to Ray’s undeniable way with words, the book’s enthusiastic reception might just possibly have something to do with its co-author, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (do ya think so, Dave?). As most of you probably know, over the years Kareem has proven himself to be far more than just a ‘sports figure’; in addition to his various acting gigs, he has also followed his wide-ranging interests in jazz and history, and has already co-authored five books. (If you’re not sure who Kareem is—if, for example, you were raised in the Mongolian backcountry beyond Ulaan Baator, or on Pluto—then you can catch up by reading this remedial material.)

Apart from their shared passion for the Harlem Renaissance, Kareem and Ray also share a passion for basketball—though I’m informed by reliable sources that Kareem has always played clean, while Raymond fouls at every opportunity. We haven’t yet seen them go one-on-one, but we’re waiting. (The photo on the right shows the two proud authors; we’re presently taking wagers on this grudge match at what we consider to be acceptable odds.)

Raymond has been a busy guy. He’s always been prolific—he’s written about forty books, one of which was a finalist for an Edgar (the Oscar of the mystery trade), and he went in drag for the trio of successful pseudonymous Laramie Dunaway novels. But lately he’s been up to his ears in screenplays. His script for the documentary based on the Harlem Renaissance book is being produced by Spike Lee, and another related screenplay is likely to move forward. Three other screenplays are in various stages of development (don’t I sound Hollywood?), and if all of these properties roll at once, Raymond is going to have to learn to be in ten places at once. In addition, his latest novel Anatomy Lesson (which introduces the unique and stunning heroine Stevie Croft) is forthcoming as one of the first books from start-up (or do I mean upstart?) press Iota Publishing.

Ray’s busy, but he’s not too busy to sign books, and neither is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They’ll be signing On the Shoulders of Giants at Orange Coast College’s Robert Moore Theatre at 2 pm on Wednesday, February 28th. Those of you within driving distance of Costa Mesa, California, would be well-advised to drop through; you can bring your own or buy a copy there. (Venal animal that I am, I plan to get more than one signed so I can sell some later at well-above the cover price. I’d recommend it, but I’d also recommend claiming additional copies are for friends—it sounds less mercenary.)

3 comments:

David Thayer said...

That's great for Raymond and Kareem as well.

Jake said...

I wish I was in Orange County right now. >.<

Stealing this for my own blog, if you don't mind. (Well, linking to it, but you get the idea.)

Iota Publishing said...

Thanks for the plug, David. We'll be at the signing at OCC, too.