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Makkai ’99 on Visiting Bookstores as an Author

When last we wrote about Rebecca Makkai, a member of the Washington and Lee Class of 1999, we noted her spot on NPR’s “This American Life” and her first novel, “The Borrower.” Now she’s published a delightful blog over at Ploughshares, a literary magazine from Boston’s Emerson College. It’s titled “How to Shop at a Bookstore: An Easy 20-Step Guide for Authors,” and you can read it here.

Her advice to fellow writers is a mixture of pride, doubt and practicality. A few of Rebecca’s tips:

“See if, for just one second, you can remember what it was like to walk into a bookstore as a reader. Just a reader, a happy, curious reader. With no agenda, no insecurities, no history of bookstores as scenes of personal failure and triumph.”

“March to your alphabetical shelf. If you’ve done this enough, you know where your book should be just by scanning for the landmarks.”

“Thank god there’s a cat on the counter. Stroke the cat manically when you approach. The fact that you hate cats is irrelevant.”

And confirming that writers start out as readers: “Remember the first time your mother took you to a bookstore and told you to pick something out. To keep, not borrow. You were overwhelmed by choice and wonder.”

Fans of “The Borrower” will be happy to know that she has finished a collection of short stories and a new novel. Read more about Rebecca at her website, and more of her Ploughshares blogs here.

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