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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Patti Abbott's "Friday's Forgotten Books"


Looking through Kaye’s wonderful archives, I see my story of coming to writing fiction late in life has been done by several other people. No sense boring you with another tale of being a latecomer. Briefly, I was born in Philadelphia, married at nineteen and moved to Michigan where my husband took a university teaching position, raised two wonderful children (Megan and Josh), did all the motherly things. One day I took a writing class, began to write poetry (awful) and then short stories (better). At this point I have published more than sixty stories in various publications and won a Derringer Award last year for a flash fiction piece. I love writing short stories and am so glad I found something I could do—even if it came late.

What I’d like to talk about on Meanderings and Muses is a project near and dear to my heart—and one I hope some of you might join. Friday’s Forgotten Books. How did it begin?

My husband and I like to spend winter Saturday afternoons scavenging in antique stores. We have no expensive
collections—we just like junk. Often these shops would have cases of dusty books. And the books on their shelves were ones I remembered from my youth, the ones no one reads today. There they would sit, begging for someone to spend a dollar or two on them: A.J. Cronin, Sloan Wilson, Patricia Moyes, Nicholas Blake, John Marquand—well, you know the list if you’re of a certain age. All of them were well- regarded forty years ago but forgotten today. I wanted these books to be saved from the scrap heap. I couldn’t buy them all-or even more than a few— but I wanted to.

And then it occurred to me—I had a blog. A blog that was linked to a lot of other blogs. Maybe a few of those bloggers would join me in talking about a book they remembered but feared others had forgotten. So I asked a few people I had gotten to know a little on the Internet to write a short review. I posted links to their blogs and my own first review (Desperate Characters by Paula Fox) on my blog in April, 2008. I figured the project might last a few weeks because I would run out of people to ask for help very quickly.

Bill Crider saved the project. I didn’t know it at first but he wrote a second review the next week and a third review the week after. I’d never considered that some people might be willing to write more than one review. If it weren’t for Bill, the project would have died a quick death. For eighteen months, Bill has written a review every week. And a number of other bloggers have nearly matched him in this feat. Each week, I try to find a few new people to feature on my blog and post links to the rest of the crew. We average 15- 20 reviews a week. The Rap Sheet and J. Kingston Pierce joined in with their similar project-“The Book You Have to Read” early on, too. This added some heft to the idea that we would talk about old books—every Friday. It became more than just my project.

Occasionally, we talk about short stories, or kid’s books, movies, or non-fiction, but mostly I leave the genre up to the reviewer. Once or twice, I had to scramble to find a new review to post on my blog, but on the whole, it’s been a pleasure and a joy for me. And I hope anyone reading this that hasn’t done one (or those who have) will get in touch with me. The lists of books and reviewers are available at
http://patti-fridaysforgottenbooks.blogspot.com/
And the original reviews are in my archives at http://pattinase.blogspot.com.

Thanks to Kaye for inviting me to write this. And thanks to the more than 200 people who have written a review.

18 comments:

My Carolina Kitchen said...

You have a very impressive resume. Congratulations on doing things of importantance later in life. I'm so glad to meet you. Thanks Kaye for introducing us to Patti.
Sam

Lesa said...

Patti,

It was always a pleasure to dig through my memory for a book to discuss on Friday's Forgotten Books. I just ran out of older titles! It's a wonderful way to rediscover, or learn about for the first time, some terrific authors. Thanks for the project. Your dedication, and Bill's knowledge, are unbelievable. Continued good luck with it!

Lesa - http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

Paul D. Brazill said...

Nice post Mrs A!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks and thank Lesa and Paul for the books they have talked about. And I hope Sam may do one sometime soon. Always looking for new people.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I had a great time when I wrote a review on your blog, Patti!

I've really enjoyed learning about so many wonderful books from the talented reviewers you have on board, Patti! Thanks for having such a great blog.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Elizabeth and come back and do another.

David Cranmer said...

Patti is the best and I have had the distinct honor of publishing two of her terrific stories at BEAT to a PULP. I've also enjoyed her Friday Forgotten Books and hope to contribute again in the near future. And thanks Kaye for posting this piece and the opportunity of learning more about one of the great short story writers of our time.

Annie C said...

I love this project, Patti. These reviews are marvelous reminders of books we all need to seek out. Will scour my bookshelves and see what might work for January and will be in touch soon!

And thank you for doing this -- keep up the great work!

Deb said...

Being modest, Patti will not take credit for how her kindness and snark-free blog also keeps the conversations lively and civil, but I think that's another factor in why Friday's Forgotten Books keeps going.

I look forward to FFB because of the wide diversity of authors, genres, and subjects--I can't tell you how many new (to me) books I've discovered through FFB. I was so pleased when Patti asked me to write a review--even though I'm not a writer and do not have a blog. It was great fun to share an old favorite.

FFB has also enriched my trips to used book stores and book sales. Our local Friends of the Library had a book sale yesterday and I was stocking up on some forgotten writers like Calder Willingham, Taylor Caldwell (I want to see if those hold up because I read a lot of them thirty-plus years ago), Donald Westlake (not forgotten, but relatively new to me), John D. MacDonald (ditto), etc. I lugged off seven bags of books. Now just to find space to keep them and time to read them...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Gosh, Deb. If ever I need a publicist, I know where to come. Thanks! And do another one soon.
This is another thing about FFB-the great people I have met through it.
Often people I would never have had the nerve to approach had I not had something we all believe in to talk about.

Fleur Bradley said...

I love Friday's Forgotten Books--now I finally know the story behind it!

And I've discovered another blog to follow :-)

Deb said...

Patti--just let me know the date, and I'll be glad to write another one. Thanks!

Bill Crider said...

Not that I wouldn't love to take the credit, Patti, but you deserve it, not me. The project saved itself. It was such a great idea that it would have caught on without my doing a thing.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great idea -- I'm a great lover of old books from the Limberlost books of Gene Stratton Porter to Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster to Tarzan of the Apes and All of Angela Thirkell's output.

I'll be checking out your siteQ

pattinase (abbott) said...

Vicki-Don't just check it out. Send me a review.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've very much enjoyed it and wish I could take part more often. I make most of the posts.

Steve Weddle said...

Nice work all around. Certainly enjoy the Friday forgotten books.

Molly Weston said...

What a great idea! I often pity people who aren't of "a certain age" because they can't possibly read all the good things available now--and then.