Publicist Picks: Presidents, Bison, and Other January Books
Tayler Lord and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP who share a cluttered cubicle (because of Anna). Today they also share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will all be published in January.
Tayler Lord: Hi! Here we are.
TL: Incredible. What are your publicist picks this month?
AW: First on my list: Apollo Pilot. And not just because I refer to it alternately as “A Pollo Pilot” and “Space Chicken.”
TL: I truly cannot think about that book without saying “A Pollo Pilot” instead of “Apollo Pilot.”
AW: Thanks to the Marketing potluck we hosted earlier this year, I may or may not have ruined the title of this book forever. Everyone brought a dish that played off the titles of our new season of books. (My dish was a tasty a pollo recipe in a Crock Pot.) Even so, I’m excited for the book apart from the title.
The editor, Francis French, discovered the lost (but incredibly detailed and interesting) memoir of Don Eisele, one of the lesser known astronauts on the Apollo missions. This is a side of not only Apollo history, but NASA interworkings that few people ever expected we’d be able to hear. What about you? What’s one of your top picks?
TL: Right now, for better or worse, I’m very excited (for obvious reasons) about Fit for the Presidency?
AW: Could it possibly be our candidates for the 2016 election?
TL: Hahaha, yes. You’d think that I would’ve had enough, right? It’s true, I have had enough and I’m glad it’s nearly over. But this book is refreshing among all of the slush that we’ve had to read for the last sixteen months. I find I’m drawn to pieces that use history to give us some inkling of how we’re supposed to feel about this mess of an election.
It’s really fascinating. The author creates résumés for a bunch of past presidential candidates (like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan) and then analyzes them like an executive recruiter. I kind of wish that it included our current candidates but maybe it’s best that it doesn’t.
I think we have a tendency to really praise people like Washington and Lincoln since we’re so far removed from that time period, so it’s nice to see an objective approach to their presidencies. Also, I think my favorite part of the book is that it includes the candidates’ heights and weights.
AW: Does it only include candidates who won the election?
TL: Nope! There are losers too, like William Randolph Hearst and Wendell Wilkie. According to the author, Hearst was very unqualified while Wilkie was qualified (but apparently not as much as his opponent, the incumbent FDR who was running for his third term).
AW: So cool! I’m excited to flip though it. Along the lines of analyzing and critiquing personalities… next on my list is The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner, edited by Ron Rapoport.
I’ll admit that I don’t know too much about sports journalism, which is what Ring Lardner was most known for, but the collection includes a variety of his work, including short stories, poems, and opinion pieces on politics, war, and his present America. One of our managers dubbed it “laugh-out-loud funny” in the way Lardner honestly and bluntly describes the personalities of his day.
TL: What time period was Ring Lardner writing about?
AW: The twentieth century! Generally early 1900s. I’m also looking forward to it because I’ve been sucked into—of all things—Jack London novels, so that’s the sort of story world I’ve been living in lately.
TL: Wow, that’s a very UNP friendly kind of world. Got some books on our list I could recommend!
AW: Yes! Especially with Jay Williams’ Author Under Sail getting a new paperback edition in May. But that’s still a ways yet! What’s your next January pick?
I’ve read a few chapters of it already and it’s wonderful. Evans is an amazing writer. I spend a lot of my time with the Potomac Books list, which is generally more historical and political, so it is a nice change to read something so personal. As a semi-writer, one of my favorite genres is creative nonfiction, so I feel a lot more connected to this book than some of our others. I haven’t read Young Widower yet but I need to. I’ll do some backtracking to it once I finish Should I Still Wish!
AW: Absolutely, I’m also looking forward to that one. I’ve read a few of his articles as well, and overall he’s an incredible human and compelling writer.
TL: He is! What else are you looking forward to?
AW: The Turtle’s Beating Heart by Denise Low—another wonderful human being, and as a former Kansas Poet Laureate, she’s proven her writing chops.
TL: Ah yes! I feel lucky to have so many Poet Laureates all around us at this place.
AW: Shout out to Ted Kooser!
This is a Bison Book title—and I love our Bison Books—that’s another personal narrative/memoir type. In keeping with Bison tradition, it focuses on the Great Plains and Native life. Low uncovers her aloof grandfather’s history adds an interesting twist.
TL: Bison Books are great! And such an important part of the UNP brand.
AW: And Betsy the Bison is just so darn cute!
Tune in next month for more publicity picks!