In Novmber of 2002, I interviewed Leonard Nimoy for his book, Shekina.
How I Got That Story
Book Review Rule #1: Keep your ears open. Always.
I was working in a Jewish bookstore when a massive controversy 86’d Leonard Nimoy’s big speaking event. Such a scandal!
Rule #2: Know who’d want to publish that story.
I was on the phone to The Stranger like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Looking back, I should have tried The New York TImes first. The story went international, ultimately to be parodied on Saturday Night Live. I knew a freelancer at The Times who covered Jewish-y/city-y stuff. However, I had never written for The Times, and I had, regularly, for The Stranger. Bird in the hand vs. bigger publication? A question we will address at the upcoming workshop.
Rule #3: Know your subject.
I had years of experience with the concept of the Shekina. I knew its importance to the various slices of Jewish culture, and I knew what it meant to me.
Rule #4: Be prepared to be inspired.
I call this the “Who knew?” principle. Jews usually define Shekina as the female essence of God. During my research, however, I learned that Shekina translates literally from Hebrew as “Divine Presence.” The Shekina of Jews was given its female essence by ancient Kabbalists (who pre-dated Madonna by centuries.)
None of the above factored into the published piece, or even into my pitch. So what? I loved learning it. It was fun talking to Leonard Nimoy, too, if you go for that sort of thing.
Rule #5: Hit your deadline and your word count.
You can ask Josie Davis over at PLOP! how I butchered Rule #5 in my recent piece on Madonna. Fortunately for me, she still wants me to review for her.
Rule #6: Write the review that the book deserves, even if it is a negative review; even if it’s about Leonard Nimoy.
Read my final piece, and see if you can tell which part Nimoy objected to. My criticisms were well-supported and the piece well-balanced. I didn’t intend to take pot-shots, but I wasn’t afraid to do my job: critique.
Rule #7: Publicize your publication.
My upcoming workshop at Richard Hugo House will cover this essential area in depth. I might slap up a post about it, if comments demonstrate the interest. HINT HINT.