“You have to watch these Louisiana boys. They can drink you under the table, and some of them can write you under the table. Ken Wheaton can do both. He’s a wild one, and this is a sparkling debut.” — Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North
This particular blurb is 99.9% gold. (I’ll get to the 0.1% later.)
In the course of rounding up blurbs, the first-time author wins some and he loses some. Some folks say no because they’re too busy. Some folks say yes, but end up being too busy to get it done. Other folks you have in mind your publisher might consider to be in the wrong genre for your own book (I may get around to that later). And then, one day, you end up running across an old friend and mentor on the web and things just sort of fall into line.
I’ve written about Luis Alberto Urrea before, when I recommended his most recent book, Into the Beautiful North, as a summer read. Luis was one of my writing instructors during my time at the University of Southwestern Louisiana’s graduate writing program. (USL, now known as ULL, is home of the Ragin Cajuns and, soon, the drunken football fans.) He was also kind enough to be one of my thesis advisors.
I hadn’t seen or heard from Luis in a while. The last time was when he was doing the tour for The Hummingbird’s Daughter, another of his novels that will knock your socks off.
And the time before that? In one of those weird New York moments, I’d gone with a group of friends to Old Town Pub just north of Union Square and there, sitting on a bar stool, was Luis. (He was with friends, too. Don’t want to make him sound like a tragic Bukowski figure sitting alone in a bar looking for answers at the bottom of a bottle. Luis barely drinks — well, compared to me — and he’s probably one of the most inspirational people you’ll ever meet.)
Recently, in a sort of cyber version of that same evening, we stumbled across one another on Twitter. (Who says Twitter is completely useless? Not this guy.) So we chatted a bit. One thing led to another and, there ya go, another blurb for the book.
A positive blurb from a teacher, a friend, a hell of a writer. And yet another blurb that mentions booze!
So what’s the 0.1% I’m worried about? That some people are going to get it into their heads to challenge me to a drinking contest, which, in my advanced age, I’d be destined to lose. There will be no drinking contests, you hear me? None! I’m already under the table. So there. I give up.
Now go forth and read.