Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Alphabetical Life is well worth living and reading

The subtitle of Wendy Werris' upcoming memoir,An Alphabetical Life,is "Living it up in the business of books" which she does with vibrant gusto. Her literary career started at nineteen when she got a job at the legendary Pickwick Shop in Hollywood in 1970. There,she not only blended in with the lively staff and customers but wound up putting college aside to pursue a bookselling career(she did obtain a degree later in life). When Pickwick closed down due to being bought by B. Dalton,Wendy worked at several other bookstores before landing a marketing position at Straight Arrow Books in San Francisco. After awhile,corporate life wasn't for her so she became a publisher's representive(one of the first women to do so in what had been a male dominated field for a long time)who eventually started up I-5 Associates and has also been a media escort for such authors as Jonathan Franzen and Eric Idle.

It's been a life of ups and downs;there are plenty of wonderful anecdotes in the book,like the time she went to a dinner party with Eric Idle,who seemed concerned about something. He said to her"Oh,I'm just wondering where my friend George is." His pal George did show up-George Harrison,that is! Other tales include the joys of convincing booksellers to stock The World According to Garp,finding a more entertaining way to do stock inventory with another rep and a visit to McDonalds with Franzen.

We also get to meet Wendy's family,mostly her parents Charlotte and Snag who brought their die hard Brooklyn born style with them to L.A. Snag was a well known comedy writer who worked on the Jackie Gleason show and wrote jokes for the likes of Johnny Carson and Bob Hope. When Snag became no longer in as much demand as he used with the changes in the entertainment world,it took a toll on family life. Wendy talks about how much she loved and admired her parents in different ways and dealt with losing them as well as a violent encounter in her home from a stranger that profoundly affected her relationships for a time.

Wendy paints loving portraits of many of the bookfolk she has met up with over the years like Anne Chiqouine,who had a Auntie Mame spirit about her and Miriam Bass,a book buyer for Hunter's Bookshop in Beverly Hills who was particularly her soulmate.

She relates many of the differences in the book world since she first entered it and laments the loss of many great independant stores(Wendy helped organize a reunion of Pickwick employees who still have fond memories of their time together).

An Alphabetical Life is a must-have not only for booklovers but for anyone curious about the nature of the book industry. It's also an engaging,rollicking ride with a truly remarkable woman. The book is due in stores by late October,so keep a sharp eye out for it and put in your pre-order today! You won't reget it but you will want to kick yourself for missing out on such a delightful daring life story.

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