Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Remembrance of Rolodex Cards Past

The death today of author John Updike is yet another reminder how the "greatest generation" of authors seem to slowly be fading into the past. When I read this morning about Updike's death I cast a wayward glance at my trusty old Rolodex and sadly thought "there goes another one." A bit of an explanation:   I began my publishing career in 1991 at Random House, where I started compiling my Rolodex of author contacts. From Random House I then went on to HarperCollins, and then to Penguin, and then back again to HarperCollins (the book publishing industry is just an adult version of musical chairs). All the while I collected names of authors and their contact information for my increasingly stuffed-to-the-gills Rolodex. About a year ago I started flipping through my Rolodex and I thought "oh wow, I can't believe how many dead authors I have filed in my Rolodex." Authors like Norman Mailer (a man who I thought was incredibly charming and who had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen), Richard Avedon, Leon Uris, and Robert Ludlum. They are all gone now but I can't bear to remove their cards from my Rolodex, which is a timepiece of my career. I have not bitten the bullet and gone digital with my contact information even though I am computer literate. The Rolodex appeals to my sentimental side--a useful relic of a not-too-distant time that I want to preserve. The dead author Rolodex cards will remain intact.

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