OK - "the drug-addled poet Charles Olson"? Charles Olson, one of the major figures of 20th century poetry, listed here as "drug addled poet" - I find this to be more than insulting, more than just stupid and lazy, but with that I not only do not want to carry the book at our store, but I wonder why anyone else would want to trust what the author Elyssa East (who has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University's School of the Arts and lives in NYC) has to say?
The nice thing about owning your own bookstore is that you are free to carry the books that interest you, and free to skip over the ones that don't. I would still like to read a book about Dogtown, but certainly not one identifying Charles Olson only as a "drug addled poet". (but they do praise her luminous, insightful prose...)
Two days after posting part one of this message, and I have heard from several people who all doubt that the author would represent her book in this way. The author herself wrote that she "just wanted to clarify that Olson is not characterized as a drug addled poet in my book. I think it may be in the catalogue copy, but it is most definitely not in the text and will not be on the flap copy.
The majority of my very brief Olson chapter focuses on how passionately he loved Gloucester, and Dogtown's role in helping expand the Maximus poems."
In these days of cutbacks at the publishing houses, independent bookstores like ours rarely see book reps anymore. We get catalogs in the mail (or some, now, only online) and perhaps a phone call from a phone sales rep, but in many cases the catalog copy is the only source of advance information on a particular book, and many of us don't spend a lot of time pondering each title. When we see someone we respect being characterized as a "drug addled poet" that quickly colors our perception of the book and the author's point of view, and makes an ordering decision that much easier. Free Press should be reminded of this fact, and the importance of catalog copy should be emphasized.
We look forward to reading this book, and hope that others will read it also.
Thanks to Elyssa East for her prompt clarification.