Along with writing books for University of Texas Press, I also serve as co-editor of the American Music Series, which published “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown.” I would liken the co-editor gig to what a freelance A&R person does for a record label, in that I try to connect authors and subjects with UT Press to make books happen. Brainstorming ideas is the fun part of the process and it can yield up wonderful incongruities, like the book that Mekons/Waco Brothers mastermind/raconteur Jon Langford is currently writing about his fellow Welshman Tom Jones (and I for one cannot wait to see what Jon comes up with).
Once a book is under contract, getting it written, edited, approved and finally published can take an immense amount of work. Sometimes, however, my part of the process really could not be easier. That goes for an AMS title I’ve very excited about, “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by Kristin Hersh, a musician I’ve been listening to since her long-ago days leading the Throwing Muses. This is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius if ever there was one, which I don’t mean the least bit ironically because reading it left me awestruck. There was very little editing involved, and my input amounted to not much beyond adding my voice to all the in-house hosannas. “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” is the best book of any sort that I’ve read in years, and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to read it, too.