From Publishers Weekly
We never know what may happen when we pick up a book," writes Werris is her tragicomic memoir of life in the book trade, "... turning the page might actually change the course of our existence." As an unemployed college student, Werris began selling books in 1970 at the Pickwick Bookstore in Los Angeles and never stopped. Her evolutionary career began in bookstores, moved to publishers (like Rolling Stone's imprint, Straight Arrow), continued on to repping and culminated in escorting famous authors on tour. Daughter of Snag Werris, a longtime comedy writer for the likes of Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason, Werris has humor in her genes and a raconteur's flair for a good story, and her book bubbles with insider tales of authors and celebrities (like her one-night stand with Richard Brautigan and a magical dinner with Eric Idle and George Harrison). Sadness peppers Werris's story, however: failed relationships, the death of a beloved friend from kidney failure, a complicated relationship with her parents and a brutal rape whose perpetrator was never captured, despite Werris's own valiant efforts. The book details a richly textured world of small presses and now vanishing independent bookstores, and is a bittersweet tribute to the indefatigability of bibliophiles like Werris herself. (Nov.)
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Werris grew up in Los Angeles while her often-absent comedy-writer father, Snag Werris, sustained a 20-year association with Jackie Gleason. During the summer of 1970, Wendy, age 19, strolled into Pickwick Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard, a renowned venue that attracted street people as well as celebrities, intending to buy a Charles Bukowski collection, and walked out not only with the book but also with the job that would set her life's course. Werris now tells the story of her peripatetic and gutsy book-selling career in a matter-of-fact memoir that eulogizes expert and eccentric independent booksellers of yesteryear and chronicles the rise of the discount chains. Werris also adds a chapter to the story of women in the workforce as she remembers her demanding years on the road as a publisher's rep when few women traveled sales circuits solo. Werris earns respect and sympathy as she shares her unusual and enlightening perspective on the publishing industry by portraying mentors and colleagues, relating brushes with celebrities, disclosing personal suffering, and sharing her tireless love for books. Donna Seaman
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