Acquiring The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart

Here’s a follow-up to the post about the sales numbers on the GRS biography, which are low:

A comment by regular weblog follower and colleague “Teepee 12” mentions that those on a small fixed income can’t afford 25 bucks for a Kindle version, let along 45 bucks for the hard copy.  She’s right – I can’t even afford to buy copies of my own book just now (and gave all my publisher’s copies to those who helped with the research and writing).  So here’s an idea for others not in the 1% who want to read the book:

McFarland, an excellent publisher, aims their books at libraries, and the price is not unreasonable for those fine organizations. Ask your library to buy a copy.   If they buy a copy, you can check it out and read it.  So can a lot of other people.

And thanks to “Teepee 12” for the inspiration.


The Western Literature Association & GRS Saunter

Thanks to the encouragement of Dr. Cheryll Glotfelty of the University of Nevada, Reno, I’ll be presenting a talk at next month’s Western Literature Association conference in Berkeley.  The talk will be about George R. Stewart, but he is not identified in title or abstract — I want to see how many know who he is.  It should be interesting to see the response.

Cheryll also encouraged a field trip to GRS sites in Berkeley, and Baiba Strads of the Bancroft Library agreed to help put that together.  We’ll “saunter” up to Earth Abides country, the area in the Berkeley Hills here Earth Abides largely takes place. Then to the University, and the Bancroft, to see some items from the George Rippey Stewart Papers.  We’ll finish with dinner at the Bernard Maybeck designed Arts and Crafts Faculty Club.

The small group will include members of the Stewart and Wilson families, Stewart fans and scholars, and university professors from Berkeley and Reno.  We’re all looking forward to this chance to meet and share our interest in George R. Stewart, in the places he wrote into legend.



The Influence of a Book

The George R. Stewart biography is not selling in large numbers.  It’s almost literally “The Book A Month Club” in terms of sales.  But it is having an influence.

A few weeks ago Ross B. messaged to say that he was a relative of George R. Stewart – He’s a Wilson on his maternal side, and GRS’s mother was a Wilson – mentioned that his family has a 16mm silent film of the Wilsons and the Stewart males shot in Pasadena in 1929, probably at the Stewart home on Jackson Street — and asked if I would  like a copy? Of course! His son, a video editor in Hollywood, cut the GRS footage from a longer film, professionally titled it, and put it on DVD.   Ross was kind enough to send DVDs to the Bancroft, to me; and eventually, to the Stewart and Evenson families. It is an exceptional historical document.  To my knowledge it is the only film of GRS.   Seeing that film was worth writing the book.

A couple of weeks after hearing from Ross, I received an email from Dr. Junlin of the University of Northern Illinois.  She found my book in the library (so we know at least one library bought a copy), and tracked me down through this blog to say that she is working with the most prestigious publisher in China to do a Chinese edition of Names On The Land. (Junlin would translate the work.)  She asked if I could connect her with the Stewart family, particularly to negotiate copyright for China.  I could, and did, and so that project is underway.

Thus, even a book that sells only a few copies can have its influence.  It depends on where it sells, and who reads it, and McFarland is very careful to sell to the market which will place the book in hands like Ross’s and Junlin’s.  It is very satisfying to see the results of their careful marketing and fine publishing.

The film now resides in the Bancroft, in very good company — the George Rippey Stewart, Jr, Papers; the Mark Twain Papers; and the letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush which began the Lewis and Clark Expedition are also in the Bancroft.