Your friendly Arbiters of Style are on holiday vacation as of next week, meaning that updates on this site will be shorter and more sporadic until the new year. They will still be ongoing, however, as we’ll continue to post links to items of note on other sites as well as gems from our own archives that you may have missed the first time around. And of course, once 2009 arrives,we’ll come charging back out of the gate with new commentary, new photography (from the Alps, no less), another Very Special Interview Subject, and much more.
In the meantime, we want to thank each and every one of you for your support of this site over the course of 2008. Since the Manual of Style’s official launch in February, word of our daily perorations has spread steadily until we now find ourselves writing for a growing, dedicated, and highly stylish audience every weekday. That is a privilege we truly enjoy, and we appreciate all your help in making it possible. We hope that you have as much fun reading the Manual as we have writing it, and that you’ll continue recommending us to other lovers of books, art, humor, grammar, and good taste.
Ten months ago this site was effectively unknown; last week Blogs.com named us one of the 10 Best Publisher Blogs on the Web. (The list was guest-authored by the editor of Beacon Broadside, who knows a thing or two about great publishing blogs herself.) We aim to build on that success in the new year—and to that end, will soon be asking to hear your suggestions on how we can improve. For now, though, relax, enjoy the season, and if you get tired of hearing your nephews break china or watching Aunt Tamara fish wig hairs out of her brandy, sneak away to your computer and check in on us; we might just have tiptoed to our own and posted something for you.
All the best,
The Arbiters of Style
From this article in the Guardian Books Blog comes news of a soon-to-be-published collection of rejection letters—not the kind spurned lovers used to get, but the even sadder kind that authors receive from editors. As the article points out, rejections are no fun from either end; we’ve had to write plenty of those letters ourselves, and we always hate to be the bearer of bad tidings. At the same time, we sort of wish the power involved could somehow carry over into other areas of our lives. If only we could nip real problems in the bud with the stroke of a pen…
Dear Subway Jackass,
Thank you for submitting your proposal Step Into the Subway Ahead of Me and Stop Moving Immediately for consideration. While we very much appreciate your interest in adding a particularly excruciating moment to my already painful commute, we are returning your submission, as we are not accepting unsolicited cretinism at this time.
By way of friendly critique, we do want to tell you that your submission displayed some initial promise. Your idea for an opening—i.e., stepping promptly into the train instead of standing stock still in front of me on the platform—was by no means unreasonable. Rather, it was your proposal to stop short one millimeter inside the door, despite the ample passenger room available on the interior and the obstacle this action would pose to my own entrance, that made us question the acceptability of your submission and, indeed, your functionality as a member of a species whose evolutionary success derives largely from such social skills as reciprocal courtesy and awareness of other selves.
We hope you will understand that our rejection is in no way meant to disparage you, but is simply the necessary result of our deep and abiding loathing toward you and every member of your solipsistic ilk. Meanwhile, we wish you every success in falling into an open manhole. Best of luck!
It’s Abbeville Holiday Gift Book Recommendation Day! Recently we’ve been trying to keep this space clear of blatant advertisements (stealthy links are always to be preferred), but during the holidays it just can’t be helped. One of the nice things, at least, about a little company like ours is that the same people trying to sell you products also had a strong hand in creating those products. Here are a few recent releases that we’re proud to have helped edit and design—and that we think might make excellent gifts for the stylish people in your life. (Click the links below the cover images for full bookpage details.)
Egyptian Wall Painting Daughters of India
A Museum of Their Own The Tea Drinker’s Handbook
That’s three beautiful art books, two of which explore and celebrate the (still) underappreciated work of female artists, plus one funky-shaped, steamy tome for tea lovers. And speaking of winter drinks, we thought we’d throw in a bonus today: a couple of classy drink recipes guaranteed to induce merriment, courtesy of Abbeville’s American Bar:
In the immortal words of the drunk Santa in Miracle on 34th Street: “It’s cold outside! A man’s gotta do somethin’ to keep warm!” And now if you’ll excuse us, we’re about to have our own jolly holiday lunch here at the office…cheers.
We always enjoy Abbeville author events that take place here in the city, so we were pleased to help host Daughters of India: Art and Identity author Stephen P. Huyler at the Rubin Museum of Art this past Wednesday night. Every seat in the house was filled and crews from both India TV and Sahara TV were on hand to film the night. Also on hand was our Arbiter of Style and publicity wunderkind Michaelann, setting up, making introductions, and generally being everywhere and charming everyone all at once. During his talk about the book—a lavish and, as the cover suggests, colorful celebration of women aspiring to creative success in modern-day India—Mr. Huyler presented a slideshow of images before being joined onstage for a conversation with Indian writer Meera Nair. Tim McHenry, the museum’s director, specially thanked Abbeville in his closing remarks—a sentiment we hereby return, with many thanks also to the South Asian Journalists Association, which co-sponsored the event.
If you missed out on the fun, don’t despair: you can see a slideshow of images from the evening here, as well as a schedule of the author’s upcoming appearances here. Copious information about the author and his book can also be found at http://www.daughtersofindia.com, a site as handsomely designed as the book itself.
Coming up next week: a not-to-be missed interview with a Secret Someone; another guest entry from master yachtsman Gary Jobson, this time in the form of a podcast; and much holding forth in ornate prose as always. See you Monday.
If you felt a small thrill this morning and didn’t know why, you might be the newly-announced winner of our Loggia of Raphael Giveaway Contest, hosted by Art Blog By Bob! With effortless adorability and flair, Bob’s son Alex drew the winning name this morning out of his trusty Philadelphia Phillies cap (the Phillies having also won big this year). The lucky contestant receives one (1) copy of our beautiful recent release, The Loggia of Raphael: A Vatican Art Treasure, by Nicole Dacos. Note that we have not revealed this contestant’s name yet—you’ll have to head to ABBB and find it out for yourself.
Many thanks to Bob Duggan and Art Blog by Bob, and hearty congratulations to the winner!
This past Friday we at Abbeville took a break from editing, producing, and marketing our books in order to dress as them. Yes, it was time for our annual inter-office Abbeville Book Costume Contest, and the winner, as the photo above demonstrates, was Halloween itself. (Click here for last year’s photo.)
Up front are Briana as the star of our new children’s release Everett, the Incredibly Helpful Helper and Erin as The Green Bubble, our investor’s guide to the possibilities and pitfalls of the green energy revolution (nota bene: bubble wand!). In the back row, left to right, are Austin as A Year in Sports (looks like the year he chose was circa 1927), Megan as a tea drinker availing herself of our new Tea Drinker’s Handbook, and Louise and Michaelann as two proud Daughters of India.
After work we joined the cavalcade of madness in the West Village, where New York’s artsiest congregate each October 31 to display the fruits of their drunken creativity. There we found plenty of other costumes to judge and plenty of time in which to judge them, since neighborhood population density shot up to twenty-eight people per square foot and just crossing Christopher Street took fifteen minutes. Our two main observations this year? Far fewer Sarah Palins than everyone predicted (we spotted only one; it was such a popular choice that nobody chose it), and way too many variations on the “I’m a website!” theme (a Facebook page, Gchat window, etc.), an innovation that was welcome four or five years ago but must now be considered officially passé. Unless, of course, you choose to dress up as The Abbeville Manual of Style, in which case you will be the toast of any Halloween and any holiday, period.
Over the years, Armin Brott’s series of parenting guides for fathers, from his 1995 classic The Expectant Father to the audiobook versions of Expectant Father and New Father released this year, have helped hundreds of thousands of dads (and moms) prepare for the trials and rewards of parenthood. In spring of 2009 Brott will continue the series with The Military Father: A Hands-On Guide for the Deployed Dad, a volume that aims to address the special concerns of dads in military families. As an ex-military man himself, Armin knows plenty about those concerns; but like any good soldier, he can’t go it alone. He needs some bold help, some stalwart support. Armin needs cartoons.
That’s right: although his previous books have been illustrated with New Yorker cartoons, Armin (along with Abbeville) is looking for something more original this time around. We are calling on all of our readers who are current or former veterans, or members of current military families, to submit entries to our Military Father Cartoon Contest (click the link for full rules and eligibility requirements). Winners will receive $150 and full credit in the book, as well as our sincere admiration for serving, raising a family, and being funny all at once. So break out those pens and paper, channel your inner Larson, and be sure to send your submissions to email@example.com or Cartoon Contest c/o Abbeville Press, 137 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, by December 31. Good luck!
Van Gogh Folberg
As art patrons and stylish readers, you’ve probably heard about “Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night,” the Museum of Modern Art special exhibition that recently earned a rave review in the Times. What you may not have heard about is “A Night Reading: An Evening Dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh,” the event that MoMA is hosting tonight in honor of the show. It’s taking place in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden and will feature a poetry reading by “artists and poets whose own work elicits the spirit of the night.” Plus (and here’s the kicker), Neil Folberg, the photographer of Abbeville’s volumes Celestial Nights and Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists: Discovering the Connections, will be among a talented group reading selections from Van Gogh’s letters and favorite works.
Are we Van Goghing? We are indeed. The event starts at 6:30 p.m; tickets cost $10 (members $8, students and seniors $5) and can be purchased from the “Adult Programs” section of MoMA’s website. Several of the Arbiters of Style will be in attendance, letting the starry night flow over us as we drink in the dark passions of poetry and art. Truly, an Abbeville evening.
New York Is Book Country is one of the city’s premier book festivals, and one of Abbeville‘s favorites. We like the bravado of the show’s title; we’re glad that New York considers bookishness something to brag about, despite our most prominent magazine’s just having announced that ”book country” will soon become as mythical a land as Narnia. No matter—Abbeville will be out at the festival in full force, selling our brand-new wares and spreading goodwill. Generous discounts are guaranteed, plus we think we heard someone mention free balloons! Come stop by our booth (#23), browse, pick up some swag, and say hi to your friendly local Arbiters of Style. The show takes place this Sunday, September 21, from 10 AM to 5 PM, in Central Park between Literary Walk (naturally) and the Bandshell. See you there!
P.S. In case you missed it, our fireball of breaking news was picked up by Gothamist yesterday. Citizen Erin also filed a news report on iReport.com, where one buzzkill commenter pointed out that technically, the motorcycle didn’t “spontaneously combust.” Well, maybe not, but it didn’t take its time combusting either.
We were reading Laurie Fendrich’s post on Brainstorm yesterday when we came across two pleasant surprises: 1) she made very kind mention of our site and 2) it was her 100th post ever. Congratulations to Laurie! We’ve highly recommended her work to our readers in the past, and we highly recommend it again.
That milestone also got us thinking—how many total posts were we up to here at the Abbeville Manual of Style? We checked and, wouldn’t you know it, yesterday marked our 100th post as well. Coincidence? We think so! But it’s a good excuse to celebrate the fun we’ve had opinionating, ruminating, reviewing, interviewing, photographing, and of course, arbitrating style over the past ten months. We hope you, our readers, have had fun too, because frankly we have no intention of stopping this crazy train.
We’re not sure how one celebrates this kind of anniversary, exactly, but we’re going to go ahead and assume it involves leaving work a little early to get a head start on glorious Labor Day weekend indolence. Why not join the celebration?