Volume 3, Issue 63: Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

"Right now I'm frightened how love is here."

We have, well, three days to go until HOW LUCKY is released. If you pre-order, from wherever you want to pre-order, and send proof of purchase to howluckythebook@gmail.com, I’ll send you a personalized bookplate. We are almost there.

Pre-Order How Lucky at Amazon, HarperCollins, Barnes & Noble, my local bookstore, Bookshop, your local bookstore, even freaking Walmart.

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We had a book release party this week. My book How Lucky, as you might have heard incessantly in this newsletter, will be released Tuesday, May 11, but with launch week comes many, many duties and obligations: Trying to have an event in the middle of that was not a possibility. So we had our party Thursday. We were careful to keep it an outdoor, safe party, but all the partygoers were fully vaccinated and, frankly, so desperate for human contact after the last 14 months that everybody was crawling all over each other by the end of the night. It was a joyous evening I won’t soon forget. People need other people. Thursday night, people got other people.

One of the few disappointments of the party was that my friend Aileen was not able to be there. I completely understand and support why—she’s a journalism professor in, uh, Syracuse, which makes it sort of tough to get to Athens, Georgia on a Thursday right before Finals Week—but had she made it, she would have been the only person to have been to all five of my book parties. (We had dinner together in New York last week, speaking of people needing other people, so we’re covered.) The previous four parties were in New York City, obviously, and to look back at them now is to see a life changing, a career evolving, friendships transitioning, whole worlds altering. They are, essentially, the stories of my adult life.

Life As A Loser (2003)

Life As A Loser was an anthology of columns by a startup boutique publisher in Boston who ended up publishing just one single book, mine, and no one had any idea what they were doing. I’m comfortable saying Life As A Loser is the most poorly designed book ever written; it is literally formatted using Microsoft Word. (It does have a lovely cover, by Matt Dorfman, now the art director of The New York Times Book Review.) The party was similarly loose-limbed: Basically just me sending an Evite to all my friends to gather at the bar Vegas in Brooklyn, a block away from my apartment. This book came out—“came out” should definitely be in quotes; I’m not sure it ever saw the inside of a bookstore—right as we were starting to get some momentum with The Black Table, the weird indie journ site I started with Eric Gillin, A.J. Daulerio and Aileen Gallagher, and the party had that vibe: Just a bunch of stupid kids drinking heavily and trying to persuade themselves they were doing something more important and lasting than they really were. We are all children in these pictures, and we were acting like it. I am embarrassed of it almost as much as I miss it.

Catch (2005)

Deadspin was about one month old when Catch, a YA novel that would make classifying How Lucky 16 years later somewhat difficult (is it a debut novel? debut adult novel?), hit, and it was a period of dramatic transition. My grandmother had just died, I’d just gotten engaged (to a woman I would not end up marrying), the site had just launched and was taking up all my waking hours and, biggest of all, my mother had just completed her chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. (You can see her hair just starting to grow back in the above photo.) Deadspin would change my life in every imaginable way, and this party feels like the last gasp of that old world, before everything would explode in all sorts of unexpected directions. The only thing I really remember from this party was how truly happy I was to see my parents.

God Save the Fan (2008)

This was essentially “Early Deadspin: The Book,” and this was without question the biggest, most “media event” of all the book parties. (You knew it was a big deal because Nick Denton actually showed up.) I was about to head out to a month-long book tour when we had this party, and I was basically working 18 hours a day and sleeping three. This was still in the period that I thought everything in my life would disappear if Deadspin was not precisely perfect at every single second, which is to say, had I kept at this much longer, it would have killed me. The party feels like the wave hitting its final height before cresting: This period was so frenzied and manic that if it were dramatized today, it’d be a montage set to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

Are We Winning? (2010)

Are We Winning? was my favorite book until How Lucky, but its release was always a bit of an afterthought, for two reasons: My editor at Hyperion left seven months before it was published (leaving it to an editor who cared so little about it that I couldn’t even pick that editor’s face out of a lineup today) and left the book to die on the vine, and I was getting married two weeks after the book came out and thus had a sorta occupied mind. It’s still a lovely book, I think, and I’m so glad my dad was at this party to be a part of it. (This was also the only book party Grierson went to.)

And then there was Thursday. This was different, in every way. It was in Georgia. It was on a Thursday when everyone had to get their kids to school the next morning. We kept it outdoors because we’re trying to transition out of a pandemic. But the best part about it, and what makes me excited moving forward, is that it wasn’t centered around who showed up, or how well the book was being promoted, or how what this means for my career or anything like that. It was just an excuse to get people together, to gather, to feel like they’re a part of the world again. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, or mark some specific pivot in my life or the lives of people around me. We just saw each other, and smiled, and hugged, and felt alive again. And this time: There were two little people who live in this house, who keep trying to read the (probably inappropriate for six-year-olds!) book in bed before they fall asleep, exciting to be a part of this, happy to be a part of this, but not nearly as happy as I am to share it with them.

There will be other book parties in the future, I think, I hope, but this’ll be the one I remember. This’ll be the one that felt like getting settled in, like being in the right place, like finding the groove. We rattle around and struggle and flail around blindly in the dark. But sometimes, if only for a second, it all clicks. I don’t know what’s coming around the corner. But I’m old enough now to realize that when it all falls into place, if just for a moment, you have to appreciate it, savor it, and hold it close. The world is a scary, dangerous place. Wolves lurk in the distance. You’ve got to hold on to the little moments. The ones that were good.

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WEEKLY BOOK UPDATE: ONE WEEK TO LAUNCH

Every week here at The Will Leitch Newsletter, we count down the weeks until the release of How Lucky, my novel that comes out May 11. This is the spot for weekly news, updates and pre-order reminders.

I have bothered you too much about this book in 2021. It’s launch week, and you have listened to enough. If you have pre-ordered the book, you will have it in your hands by the time I send another of these newsletters. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for letting me talk to you every Saturday. Thank you for all of it. Let’s see how this all turns out.

This week is your last chance for a signed book plate, by the way. There have been a LOT of them, so please be patient as I dig through all of them and get them all sent out. I am honored by all of the pre-orders. And signing these are fun! They look pretty too.

Also, here’s your reminder that the How Lucky virtual launch event is May 12, 7 p.m. ET, hosted by Avid Bookshop here in Athens. I’ll be having a conversation with Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing To See Here and The Family Fang. (Kevin is a brilliant, hilarious writer and I can’t believe he agreed to do this with me.) You can get tickets for it right here. You should really, really come to the launch event. I will honestly feel less nervous the more of you all are there. So sign up: May 12, 7 p.m. ET. Put it in your calendars!

And, remember: If you do pre-order and send proof of purchase to howluckythebook@gmail.com, I will send you a signed, personalized bookplate. The words on it will be soulful and emotionally satisfying.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality.

  1. What Albert Pujols Meant, and Still Might, MLB.com. I had exactly 33 minutes to write this before I went into a two-hour meeting. So it was clearly raw and from the heart.

  2. Kevin Durant Needs to Win It All, New York. This is a column that references the long-lost feature I wrote on Durant that was supposed to run last March but, for obvious reasons, did not. Someday I’ll probably just run that story here or on Medium so people can see it.

  3. Tips on Re-Entering the World, Medium. These came in handy this week!

  4. The How Lucky FAQ, Medium. #sponcon (But hopefully still funny.)

  5. This Week in Genre History: Spider-Man, SYFY Wire. Yeah, that little movie.

  6. Teams With Deceiving Records So Far, MLB.com. Sorry, Royals.

  7. Internet Nostalgia: Boaty McBoatface, Medium. Those charming Brits.

  8. The Thirty: Every Team’s MVP So Far, MLB.com. Featuring your first-place St. Louis Cardinals.

PODCASTS

Grierson & Leitch, we discussed “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse,” the wonderful “The Mitchells Vs. The Machines” and “Things Heard and Seen.”

Seeing Red, Bernie and I discuss first place..

People Still Read Books, I spoke with Jessica Anya Blau, author of Mary Jane.

Waitin' Since Last Saturday, no show this week.

LONG STORY YOU SHOULD READ THIS MORNING … OF THE WEEK

“The Plan To Kill Osama bin Laden, Told by the People in the Room,” Garrett M. Graff, Politico. This was a very, very easy pick this week. I had forgotten about The Rock knowing before anybody else.

ARBITRARY THINGS RANKED, WITHOUT COMMENT, FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON

Stooges

  1. Moe

  2. Larry

  3. Shemp

  4. Curly

  5. Curly Joe

  6. Joe Besser

ONGOING LETTER-WRITING PROJECT!

Write me at:

Will Leitch
P.O. Box 48
Athens GA 30603

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO

“Modern Day Miracle,” The Sundogs. This is my friend Will’s band—longtime readers/listeners may recognize the opening riff from my old Sports On Earth podcast— and he’s finishing up a new project I can’t wait to listen to. And his work, and the release of How Lucky this week, has me thinking about creation and persistence and the beauty of just getting out there Making Things. Something wasn’t there, and then you made it, and now it’s there. That will never stop blowing me away. Anyway, here’s a playlist of the best Sundogs stuff, you’ll love them.

Remember to listen to The Official Will Leitch Newsletter Spotify Playlist, featuring every song ever mentioned in this section.

It’s a week of good feelings. Be safe out there, all.


Best,
Will