The "Something That May Shock and Discredit You" Not-In-Person Book Tour Continues: What I'm Reading
Since the majority of my book tour for Something That May Shock and Discredit You has been cancelled rather than postponed, I thought I’d do my best to replicate a portion of the experience by setting up a Bookshop account. You can visit it here! I assume most of you are familiar with the concept – it’s an online retailer that partners with indie bookstores as well as author-affiliate accounts in an alternative to Amazon. If you buy any of the books in my ‘shop’ (which includes both books I’ve written and books I’m reading), I receive a small commission, as do the bookstores.
I’ll continue to update the “Books I’m Reading” section, which loosely covers the last year – there’s plenty of the usual suspects like MFK Fisher and Dodie Smith, but it also includes 17th-century Jewish women’s memoir, my first foray into modernist fiction (!), pop histories of hermits, cultural criticism about night-time (more than one, at that!), trans histories, and some of the most delightful books I’ve ever read, The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson and The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner (thanks to Jo Livingstone for the recommendation).
You can also see the Google Talk I gave in Seattle back in March; it took a while but they were finally able to upload it for public consumption. God, I miss getting to wear a blazer, and having a professional cut my hair.
One thing you may notice is that I use the name Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Daniel M. Lavery inconsistently in professional contexts. I have noticed this too! If you’re wondering why that is, the answer is “I can’t figure out what makes the most sense.” Changing your name more than once makes it rather difficult for casual readers to keep track of you as an author, and there are times when I feel very nonchalant about the fact that it’s basically a pen name; I also love the name Lavery and have a particular antipathy for the name “Ortberg” these days, for obvious reasons, so I tend to waffle. If anyone has any advice or thoughts on the matter, I’d certainly welcome it! Not in a “pick my work name” sense, of course – that’s a bit much to ask of newsletter subscribers – but it’s a strange problem to have, and I’d welcome additional perspective.
You may remember that I got the chance to record my own audiobook, which was very exciting, and I’m so tickled by this reviewer who didn’t quite know what to expect from it that I’m going to repeat it here in full:
“I did not know what I was getting into when I picked this book up—it was my first encounter with Ortberg’s work. It’s definitely strange, and not for everyone, but I found that going into it without any knowledge of his style heightened my enjoyment of it–I could just sit back and go with it. These essays mostly track Ortberg’s thoughts surrounding his transition, but he also spins off on all sorts of bizarre tangents, exploring the ideas of transition and transformation through pop culture, literature, mythology, and religion. It’s equal parts vulnerable personal essays and trans retellings of various fictional narratives. It’s funny and heartbreaking and very smart. Ortberg’s narration is breathtaking. One minute he’s cracking jokes and the next his voice is choked with emotion. It’s definitely an intimate way to experience the book.”
If you’re reading anything you’d like to recommend at the moment, please do so. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, my attention span tends to wax and wane these days, so there are weeks I don’t read anything. But I’ve been setting aside Friday and Saturday as days where I (mostly) put work and my phone to the side, and it’s been a fairly-successful experiment, even if all I end up reading are old etiquette manuals and comic books. There are worse things I could do!
Thank you, as always, for bearing with me, and for your continued support – it means a great deal to me, and I’m extremely grateful to get to have the chance to talk about my book.
also, if you live in NYC and can't afford a copy, let me know! I have a zillion extra author copies and I will leave one a safe distance from your door!
"If anyone has any advice or thoughts on the matter, I’d certainly welcome it! Not in a “pick my work name” sense, of course – that’s a bit much to ask of newsletter subscribers – but it’s a strange problem to have, and I’d welcome additional perspective."
When I was 30, I changed my long immigrant last name - which I was bullied for FOREVER - to a nice short pretty one, a version of a family middle name on my mother's side. I assumed I wasn't going to get married, so I might as well do it myself - so I did, and I loved it. Five years later, I got married after all, and kept my new last name as a middle name. Twenty years later, I got divorced... and I've kept my married name because it was such a pain in the ass to change it the first time, and I don't have the energy for it.
So, the lesson is - have the name you like, unless it's a huge pain in the ass.