The Thing about a Dust Jacket
Here’s the thing, I received a boatload of books Friday. They came in two brown boxes and were delivered by the UPS guy. They were copies of my debut middle grade novel, Carrying Mason. I cried. Okay, it might be a menopausal mood swing but still, I cried. Oh, I cried when my adult novels arrived also. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like my Bright’s Pond novels are the ugly step sisters. But this was is different and here’s why. As most of you already know I have wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. I cannot think of anything else I ever wanted to do with my life, other than a few fleeting thoughts about working for the CIA as a spy and there was that one unfortunate stint as a dog groomer, but let’s not discuss that dark day. So when the books arrived I was naturally filled with emotion and sat down and read the entire book from cover to cover as I do with all my books.
The big thing was the dust jacket. I don’t know what it is about a hardbound book with a dust jacket but it somehow makes it all more, literary, novely, writerly or bookish, maybe even permanent. It’s not an E-Book that can be deleted. (Although E-books are good too, there’s room for both) Maybe it takes me back to those days at the library when I would climb the stacks looking for a new author to read, when . . . and I might be wrong . . . but most of the books had dust jackets, that’s how I remember it. I worried about the dust jacket. I was always afraid I would rip it. Most of the book jackets were already bandaged with tape and so crimpled that one more small rip or crinkle wouldn’t matter. But I worried. I didn’t want to make it worse so I always took the jacket off when I could and set it neatly aside while I read about Pippi Longstocking, or Harriet the Spy, or the mating rituals of East Indian elephants. And then I replaced the jacket and returned it to the library. Back then I was a good citizen and returned library books. I’ve gotten a little slack in the department.
So here I am with a dust jacket with my name on it, wrapped like a comfortable blanket around the book I wrote. Oh, and the flaps make nifty bookmarks. I’m really not being prideful, although I am proud of my achievement, but I am mostly touched and even spellbound that this is really happening. Sometimes it seems impossible that this pigeon toed, stringy girl from a Westbrook Park row home got to have her dream come true. It’s as though I’m nine years old again. But the truth is, I am more a testament to perseverance, hard work, stick-to-it-tive-ness as my mother would have called it. Forty-five years is all it took. And hey, if you rip the jacket that’s okay. Just be sure to tape it. Maybe someday I’ll be rummaging through a library and find a copy all taped up, a battered and hopefully well-love book.