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Announcing Trevanian's latest novel
The Crazyladies of Pearl Street
published 4 June 2005

Trevanian News/Letter to a Librarian

From: Trevanian
To: The Librarians of Readerville.
About: The Crazyladies of Pearl Street

Dear Librarian,

I have always loved libraries. They've done for me what cathedrals do for other people.

Please let me introduce myself: I'm an old professional who has been making a living as a writer for most of fifty years. I've lightly tossed off books that became international best-sellers, and I have slaved long and lovingly over books that went directly from the printer to the remainder bins.

My last book, The Crazyladies of Pearl Street, comes out in early June, and I want lots of people to read it because these are worrying and stressful times, when Americans need the kind of comfort and gentle laughter we have in mind when we speak of 'the good ol' days'. And what days were gooder or older than the depression 1930s and the Second World War's early 1940s, which I passed in the slums of a fading north-eastern city, surrounded by the characters of this novel?

'Crazyladies...' is drenched in atmosphere and details of the era, and it's full of characters, among the most interesting being the eponymous 'crazyladies' of my childhood. For me it was a time full of love... sometimes the grasping needful maternal love from which a boy child feels he must flee, or he'll never get away...never.

A young reviewer working for Kirkus was kind enough to praise 'Crazyladies...', but, surprisingly, her review ended by advising her readers not to order it unless it was asked for. That, of course, is her right, and I am sure the book is imperfect. But read it! Then order it! I would hate to think that readers who might find comfort in those Depression times...times when trouble and joy, laughter and worry were only two-bits apart sometimes...couldn't go into their library and find a book that would carry them back to those good ol' days and bring them a slightly minor key smile.

Because of the era it evokes, your older clients will love it. As the story is told by a scrappy, resilient new kid on a very tough block, children will like it. So it's a great book for two kinds of readership: children, and anyone who has ever been a child.

Thank you for this, and for all that libraries have given me over my long life. I owe a lot to your profession. You occasionally catch the ones that fall through the school systems; on behalf of all of us, I thank you.

Be wary of these treacherous spring days. It's a terrible time to catch a cold. Always a little soft wool at the throat. Who's nagging? I'm not nagging!


Sample from: The Crazyladies of Pearl Street, describing the library that served me both as a nest and lighthouse through those Depression years.

Soon after our arrival in Albany my mother, who was determined that my sister and I would get all the culture the city could offer...for free, got library cards that gave the three of us access to the fussy brownstone Victorian edifice that was already becoming run down as the growing slum began to absorb her. Because I was only eight years old, I was issued a child's card that restricted me to a basement Children's Library that had cheery messages cut out of colored paper on the walls, and a corner for toddlers with little chairs and plenty of picture books for them to rip up and eat. For older kids, there were story books with salubrious moral parables, collections of things to do around the house on rainy days, and so-called Youth Books obviously written by middle-aged people who had had children described to them in considerable detail, but had never actually met one. I quickly used up the few good books, like Howard Pyle's splendid illustrated adventures, and I had just about given up on finding anything else of interest when, one long, rainy afternoon in autumn, I noticed a cast-iron spiral staircase in the corner most distant from the librarian's desk and hidden from her by a ceiling-to-floor bookcase that blocked off access to the stairs. While the librarian sat working at a table, I squeezed in behind the bookcase and noiselessly climbed the spiral stairs, inching up into a dusty, enticing darkness, until my outstretched hand discovered a door which I was sure must be locked. I was tired of giving Fate a chance to thumb its nose at me, so I turned to go back down. But the devil told me to try the handle. It wasn't locked. I eased it open a crack and peeked in to find myself in a dark corner of a Victorian-Gothic room with oaken paneling and tall, narrow windows with ornate stained-glass depicting events in the history of Albany. It was the home of the De Witt Clinton Memorial Collection, bulging with bound manuscripts, diaries, records, personal memoranda; all rare, all arid, few read. Other than occasional staff meetings, the only use made of this room was to store trolleys of returned books that were left there until an over-worked librarian had time to re-shelve them.

For three years I used the De Witt Clinton Room as a cozy hide-out. After selecting one of my personal books from where I stashed them behind a row of over-sized volumes on a lower shelf, I would scramble up into the deep niche of a Gothic stained-glass window, and there I was warmed by rising currents of air from the ornate radiator at my feet, and the ancient plumbing would alternate deep intestinal gurglings with long soulful sighs as I read by light diffused through colored glass. My most comforting memories of the years in Albany are the hours I spent reading in that hidden nest, dark and cool in summer, cozily warm in winter, but best when hard-skinned raindrops rattled on the stained glass behind me, and color rippled over the page of my book, while I lost myself in the story, safe, dry, and warmed by my sighing, gurgling radiator.

2005Gravity Publishing ^^Back to top