+1,100% Return on Investment. You’re welcome.

Six years ago I published a book for Nick Hornby and Bruce Springsteen. There were 200 softcovers signed by Hornby and 26 hardcovers signed by both. I set the published price for the softcovers at $60 and the hardcovers at $225. A hardcover was sold yesterday at a literature auction in San Francisco. It’s the first time one has been offered on the open market since publication. It sold for $2,700.

In granting permission to reprint the copyrighted material, it was stipulated that all proceeds, labor and material had to be donated to charity. I ended up writing a check for close to $18,000 to Ambitious about Autism, a school for autistic children in London. The materials cost about another grand. The labor is incalculable.

This sale has opened a debate. My wife, mother-in-law and a few others feel the seller should send a donation to the charity. I think that’s baloney. The implication is that every time one of these books changes hands, a donation should be made. A contribution would be nice but I see the charitable donation as a one-time event. I feel no weight of obligation. Would you?

Here’s a post about the book. Scroll to the bottom for nice pics.


Late commute back to New Jersey. 20-something-or-other shrew sitting next to me yammering to her boyfriend non-stop for forty minutes, spoiling my commuting bliss. Talking about nothing. She never took a breath or gave him a turn to speak. Who is this poor soul on the other end?

Foofy Bear. My Zen was harshed by Foofy Bear.

Guys: If your woman calls you Foofy Bear, run. Run as far and as fast as your feet and wallet will take you.

Girls: Don’t call your man Foofy Bear. It’s emasculating. Do you want an emasculated man?


A new Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie was on my A-list for the spring season. It has an excellent pedigree. Sally Field plays Amanda Wingfield, the doppelgänger for Tennessee Williams’ demented mother. Directed by Sam Gold, another seasoned pro. I started to hear grumblings and disparaging remarks. I asked a pal the day after he saw it if it was worth my time + money. Here’s his unedited feedback for your amusement.

Glass Menagerie was every bit as awful as everyone says it is. Dreadful. Emotionally void. Modern dress. Virtually no set, except a kitchen table and a modern day phone. No Southern accents. And Laura is played by a disabled actress in a wheelchair whose face is somewhat paralyzed. Makes no sense in terms of the character and watching her get into and out of the chair is horrifying. She gets down on all fours and kind of backs in (with help). I was mortified.

Totally opposite of the beautiful play Williams wrote. Sam Gold, the director, who’s usually wonderful, should be embarrassed. However, the audience liked it and I bet the critics will gush. They wouldn’t dare criticize a disabled actor. Or such a minimal production.

The Gentleman Caller is excellent — what you can see of him, because his big scene with Laura is lit only by candles in a candelabra. And I liked Joe Mantello’s opening and closing monologues.

RT is 2:05 with NO intermission. For no discernible reason.

It’s, quite possibly, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. I suggest you go, just to see how a classic play can be pulverized into meaningless trash.

IMHO, of course


Guggenheim snowfall outside; Calder inside.

This blog is nine years old today.

70 thoughts on “+1,100% Return on Investment. You’re welcome.

  1. Fabulous story about the book! I went back to the original post that you linked to and as I started reading it, it became familiar, so I think you must have pointed back to it previously. I lean towards agreeing with you – while it would be nice to make donation, I don’t think there’s an obligation to, that wasn’t part of the agreement.

    I sometimes call my man ‘hunny bunny’, or the shortened version ‘huns buns’ – is that emasculating? If so, I shall stop immediately.

  2. Do you have a copy to sell on the open market per chance?? 😄
    I’d wait longer if you do!
    Meanwhile, my head says fair enough, my heart leans towards a charitable donation.

  3. Your agreement was for original transactions so no obligation for secondary sales. That’s the free market, baby.
    I’ve never seen The Glass Menagerie but have read it and listened to an audio version on LP back in school with (I’m going to guess this and then double-check if this is even possible) Claire Booth. (Nope, Shirley Booth, but I was close. Who the hell is Claire Booth?) Guess I shouldn’t make this one my bucket-list version.
    I was in a production of “Suddenly Last Summer” years ago. The only line I remember (said with Southern accent): “…always was… per-verse!”

  4. Wow, I just read your post about making the book. What a cool, ambitious project, and the fact that it did eventually come to fruition is impressive, especially getting the celebrity signatures. Hats off to you.

    As for the train chatterer–ugh, just ugh. How can people not realize how irritating that is to the other travelers?

  5. Well well…the NYT says “..a wheelchair on broadway is anoy exploitation, it’s progress..” I’ve not yet read the whole article, but it cropped up at the same time as your post.

    Lovely that “Thunder Road” has made some big money.But I have no intention of flogging mine!Donation? Yes, it would be nice, but let’d remember that somewhere in the making of art the maker needs to eat.Drop some coin in the bucket if you want to, but don’t be pushed.

    Now, on a wholly serious matter…I would happily live with the second Guggenheim image on my wall.That, sir, is a classic piece.

    Foofy Bear? If you must say it, keep it for pillow talk!

    • Same here. They just posted that article and I saw the headline but haven’t delved into it. The production is supposed to be a wreck. Discount tickets ABOUND.

      I’m just taken aback that it was six years ago. Almost to the day, actually. Six years! What have I wrought? Thanks for the snap on the pic. NYC is lovely in a snowstorm, especially that neighborhood. The trees are Central Park. Yum.

  6. I might call my dog foofy bear. The rest of my family is already annoyed when I use baby talk with her. My husband would completely ignore me if I called him any foofybear type name…don’t ask me how I know.

    • Right? A giant insult. I read a multitude of parenting books when my girls were babies and many of them said you shouldn’t use babytalk. It’s better for developing language skills if you speak normally. They didn’t say anything about babytalk destroying relationships but I’m guessing it can’t be good.

  7. I have not the foggiest idea re: donating every time the book sells. I’m not understanding if you are selling the book or who? I say, let your conscience be your guide but you can’t donate if you are not receiving money from a sale. Maybe I misread.

    The pics of the museum in the snow are beautiful. It looks really cold there. I don’t envy your climate but then you would not like the horrid heat that we endure in most of Texas.

    The girl with the phone has a serious problem. I would have been tempted to move- that is if you could move to another spot.

    • Initially, I published and sold the book to someone for $225. All the proceeds from that sale went to a charity. Now, six years later, that someone has sold his copy for $2,700. Should he make a charitable donation with part of his sizeable profits? It’s not necessary, I say, but some disagree.

      This town is beautiful in the snow. Like a post card. But it goes to hell pretty quickly after the storm stops. I lived in Phoenix for 16 months. You are correct. The heat is unbearable to me. I tucked my tail between my legs and headed back east.

      Re: the cell phone. SOCIETY has a serious problem. Myself, included. I could’ve moved but where’s the fun in that? I wouldn’t have gotten that great pic.

    I read the old blog about making the book. You still have a handful of dedicated readers from 6 years ago. Did Gov. Christie buy a book? I agree, one donation.
    Before you know it, the number 20 will be used in the years of this blog, hopefully.
    I never saw that part of the Guggenheim, cool. I like that area.
    The 20 something shrew has so much energy. Years ago I thought it was annoying, it still is, but now I am more amazed than annoyed.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks, Tom. I appreciate that. You are correct that, six years later, I still have some of the same readers. Many have fallen to the wayside but just as many have been loyal. I don’t charge a fee. That helps, I’m sure. The Governor doesn’t know this book exists. And he wasn’t Governor back then, I believe. Some fairly important libraries bought copies. Does that count?

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, VD. I wonder if my kids will stumble across all this history after I’m gone? I kind of hope not. Some of this isn’t any of their business. And my JOURNALS?! Don’t get me started on those. I should’ve taken a match to them before I moved out of Manhattan to New Jersey.

    • Thanks, Marty. It took years and YEARS to finally publish that stupid book. At one point, I wrote Nick and told him the project was dead in the water. All I needed was for some time to pass. I was glad about the charitable donation but it really was all about the book.

  9. I don’t think anyone should take a cut of the profit if they haven’t shared the risk. How much would the books be worth if Springfield later got arrested for indecent exposure?

    Foofy Bear is worse than Teddy Bear. But I remember a porn actor saying his co-workers called him ‘Poppa Bear’ or something similar.

    • One donation is enough, right? Just because your’e a new owner doesn’t mean you’re on the hook to give. It would be NICE but they shouldn’t feel bad about not doing it.

      If my wife had called me Foofy Bear or anything similar she wouldn’t be my wife right now. It’s not a pet name I could be proud of.

  10. I recall the book. So cool. But a second tier donation is not required.

    Tennessee Williams. Ugh. I spent too many acting classes — years of them, watching, critiquing and ultimately suffering through Tennessee Williams plays. An estimated 3,000,000 each play. Save your money. Or write a warning before you write about the show. I beg you.

    • It seems everyone in this comment section is either in agreement with me or being diplomatic. My mother-in-law said the seller should donate HALF. That seems excessive to me.

      I like Williams. But then, again, I didn’t have him rammed down my throat the way you did. I saw Scarlet Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The production was okay but seeing her slink around on a stage in a nighty was worth the price of admission alone. Brick. What an idiot.

      • Many years ago I saw Jessica Lange in Streetcar. She wasn’t very good, I’m afraid. Couldn’t project up into the balcony. Alec Baldwin played Stanley Kowalski.He was fantastic.Boy, can that guy project! Do you know who Judith Ivey is? I saw her in Glass Menagerie. Perfect.

  11. Nice one on the book. In the case of should the seller give a donation is their choice, unless this was stipulated on “every” sale.

    Foofy Bear? I just threw up in my mouth a little.

    Cool shots, M.

  12. Not that i’m qualified to give advice on anything but i’d say you’re spot on. The donation was for the first run sale of the books, once they ventured out into the world the owner is free to do with it what they want and keep any cash they may happen to make off it. You’re on your own telling the ladies though, me no get involved in familial disputes, lol. Foofy Bear signing off. (and i remember that book without even having to look it up, so as your biggest fan do i get a t-shirt or something?)

    • What are you talking about? You’re as qualified as anyone else. In face, even more so than man. Don’t hand me that plate of glop. You’re smart not to offer to stand in as my attorney. The space between my women and I can be fraught with danger. You’ve got the boyos to think about. I’ll try to come up with a longevity prize. You are, indeed, in the comment section for that post. Long time ago!

  13. If a donation is to be expected every time a book is sold than shouldn’t it be the same for ANYTHING that is purchased to help a charity and resold?
    Every year they have a raffle for Children’s Cancer Society-if you win the house does this mean you need to make a donation when you sell it? I don’t think so.
    You raised a lot of money for a good cause and put a lot of time into it. You have done your part, mine will be tucked away and handed down to the girls to do with what they please.

    • Flawless logic, as usual. Would it be nice to donate a portion? Sure. But I object to the implication that it’s a necessity. I took care of the obligation six years ago when I wrote that check. Do the girls know about the book? Which one will get it (them)? Better stipulate in the will.

      • They do I haven’t thought that far but I am hoping if they ever sell either in they would just split 50/50

  14. I suspect your wife and mother-in-law are feeling a little miffed for you: you put in all the work and donated everything to the charity; the person who has now resold the copy s/he bought made a huge profit for doing nothing (apparently). It seems unfair to you. But, s/he didn’t make any agreement/promise other than to give you $225 in return for a book. Isn’t this the way of all art? Artist sweats nuts off to make art; buyer pays bugger all for art; artist starves to death or goes mad, or gives up and becomes a teacher (then goes mad and dies); buyer sells for more than the artist could have earned in a thousand lifetimes.

    Regarding Foofybear and the cell phone: whenever Dave takes me to a new country I download an app to get some idea of the language. I then spend delightful hours clicking on illustrations, listening to the word, and repeating: ‘sinaasappel sap’ etc. You could have driven Foofybear’s girl insane with an app like that and a pair of headphones. As for the name, I don’t understand the need some people have to infantilize, but millions seem to do it and like it, so who am I to criticise?

    Like Dinah, I could happily put Guggenheim in the snow #2 on my wall and lose myself in it regularly. And I love Calder. And Tennessee Williams; sad not all interpretations work, I wonder what Gold was thinking? If you can get a cheap ticket, go, I want to read your review.

    • It sure didn’t feel like work to me! I had no problem with doing it for free. And my motivation wasn’t even the charitable contribution. I enjoyed the collaboration and print shop visits. That was payment enough for me. I have no interest after the new owner takes hold. They could set it on fire for all I care. Not kidding.

      You are as qualified to criticize as anyone else. Maybe more qualified than most. Mobile phones are ruining society. We went to the theater yesterday. My 15-year old got on her phone at intermission and never looked up. Her father was sitting on one side and her sister on the other but that phone was more interesting and important than what we had to offer. Almost made me weep.

      I’m tempted to see what is apparently quite a train wreck of a production but feel guilty spending all that money and a night out on something that is so clearly off the track. There’s much better and less expensive fare out there.

      • Let’s hope that, as vinyl and real books are enjoying a resurgence, speaking face to face with actual humans will eventually emerge as the way to communicate. It will be quite new and daring for some!

      • I might have mentioned this already but there’s a game young people are playing here in New York, When a group goes out to a restaurant or bar, they all put their mobile phones in the middle of the table. The first one to pick up their phone has to pay the bill for the table. It’s incentive to become more engaged and I like it.

  15. You’ve got to rely on some sense of morality and compassion entering the mind of the buyer, and that can hardly be counted on.

    Very happy birthday to Exile on Pain Street (née Unbearable Banishment!). Far too many interesting people have stopped bothering, or have moved over to Farce Book I suppose, and I’m pleased you’re keeping on keeping on.

    • I object to imposing the morality and compassion of my wife, mother-in-law and a few others on the buyer. That feels icky to me.

      Thanks. Look at you name-checking my old site. Lord, you’ve been around a long time. You have the best stuff out there. I stand in your shadow.

  16. That’s fantastic news about your book. I agree with you that the donation should be a one-time event, and it should not be an obligation.

    Milton and I are seeing The Glass Menagerie on my birthday in May. We’re were so insanely psyched to see this show we bought our tickets on the first day they went on sale, September 12, 2016. We do not read reviews, but I did read aloud to Milton the ominous first paragraph of Brantley’s in the Times:

    “That shattering sound you hear coming from the Belasco Theater is the celebrated director Sam Gold taking a hammer to everything that’s delicate in “The Glass Menagerie.” The jagged, glistening shards of Tennessee Williams’s breakthrough play are available for inspection in the revival that opened on Thursday night.”

    It’s been tough to avoid the negativity surrounding what sounds like a disaster. Last week, Today Tix texted me:

    Price Drop Alert! $29 tickets available to see The Glass Menagerie. starring Sally Field.

    Milton predicts that by the time we go on my birthday, all tickets to this turkey will be free.

    • Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes. Nice to see you. Glad you could stop by. I’m glad the book has increased in value but I don’t stand to benefit one cent. They’ve all been sold and distributed. I suppose it validates the project, which is nice, but I didn’t do it for money in the first place.

      Didn’t Glass Menagerie look like a sure bet? Sam Gold! What could go wrong?! I saw his Othello at the NYTW with James Bond as Iago and it was fantastic. We lucked out on lottery tickets. I think we paid $25 bucks or something like that. Gold is doing Hamlet at The Public but tix are $95 so I’ll have to pass.

      Tonight I’m seeing O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape at the Park Avenue Armory. I love those Armory productions. It’s interesting to see what they can do with such a big, open space. I’m seeing The Play That Goes Wrong on Friday. Who couldn’t use a good laugh right about now? I thought Will Eno’s Wakey Wakey was pretty boring but my friend liked it so who knows. I took my daughters and wife to a local New Jersey production of In The Heights and it was spectacular. Really top-notch cast and performance. I’ve paid more and have gotten less in the city. I liked Man From Nebraska and The Object Lesson was just okay. What can you recommend?

      • I know that you personally did not profit from that 18k sale if your book, but writing that check for charity had to have been equal to winning the good karma lottery.

        Without sifting through my pile of Playbills from this season the shows that have impressed me the most were Jitney (I’m a huge August Wilson fan), Sunset Boulevard (Glenn Close was brilliant and Milton, who saw her in it in the 90s, thought she gives even better Norma Desmond now) Falsettos (had a lump in my throat at the end of that one) and our choice for Best New Musical is Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. That said, Milton predicts that Come From Away will win the Tony because of the subject matter (9/11), it’s so inclusive and has so much heart. Artistically, nothing should touch Comet but I bet what’s swirling around in Milton’s crystal ball is right. We saw Wakey Wakey. It was okay, but we weren’t blown away. I much preferred Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Everybody; it was about the same subject essentially but had such better energy than Eno’s. I wanted to love Man from Nebraska because I have a long relationship ushering for Second Stage, but I didn’t feel it. I got a big kick out of How to Transcend a Happy Marriage; both Lena Hall and Marissa Tomei rock. It’s not a great play, written be Sara Ruhl, but it’s very entertaining. I enjoyed ushering The Light Years at Playwrights Horizons, but that show has flaws.

        Milton is still howling about how many duds we’ve seen this season and he HUGELY regrets that we missed Othello. We have Hamlet tickets; scored $75 preview price. We’re looking forward to The Play That Goes Wrong, Sunday in the Park with George, War Paint and The Price. Also high on our list is Hello, Dolly! We have all those tickets. We have yet to get Dolls House Part 2, Little Foxes and Six Degrees. I had zero interest in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I’ll see anything with Christian Borle. Utterly hated Amelie and think Significant Other was okay, but has no business being on Broadway; so happy we paid rush price for both. Neither was worth one cent more. We saw both Indecent and Sweat off-Broadway. Once was plenty for both.

        Oh. We’re seeing Hairy Ape tonight, too. Just look for two lumps of humanity that resemble poor versions of Hilton Als and Fran Leibowitz, but straight white folk assume are a black white straight married couple. Yep. That be us, baby.

      • Wow! That’s quite a rundown. You do way better than I do but I still do pretty well for someone who lives in the New Jersey suburbs. I think it’s a howl that you’re going to be at the Armory tonight. I knew we’d bump into each other sooner or later. I’m in section R row F. Look for me! Did you read the Fran Leibowitz interview in last Sunday’s book review? Hilarious!

  17. Yes, I did read Fran’s interview. Not sure if Milton did. I don’t know where we’re sitting! He ordered the tickets online and we have to pick them up at the box office. I know we’re in the cheap seats. Check out Fran’s new pad: http://bit.ly/2kDPmyg It’s a scosh better than mine. Ahem. I added Mark Section R row F into my phone’s notes, so I’ll look for you. Two years from now when I look through all my old notes, I might wonder, “Who was Mark Section?” Unrelated WP gripe: when you responded to my comment, WP didn’t notify me and they don’t allow me to respond in that comment thread. So annoying.

  18. wow! i’ve missed a TON o’stuff since i managed to spill a martini on my mac and ending my easy use of technology. (try reading blogs on an iphone 5) but i digress. congratulations on 9 years, sweetpea! i’m in agreement with most here, your donation was fine, there is no compelling reason, other than being a thoughtful human being, for a donation by the secondary seller. but wtf do i know? i’ve gotten to the point in my life that trying to figure out why people do what they do. perhaps the seller needed some cash. *shrug* bottomline, you did the right thing and that’s what matters. (i just realized i’m commenting like there’s no tomorrow because i’m using a computer again!! *long story, but temporary*)

    great photos, by the by, i’ve been out west, so seeing snow pics is a treat!

    i have sundays nyt still in my carry-on. i’ll ck for reviews. xoxox

    • Well, if you’re going to murder your Mac, spilling a martini into it is the best way to do it. Beats the hell out of just dropping it down a staircase.

      I keep waiting for some pushback on the donation but everyone seems to be in agreement. I won’t send anything when I sell my copies.

      Hope you had a nice trip. Does it make you want to live out there? Are you done with GA?

      • 😉

        it’s all about the krewe out there, but to get a comparable house we’d have to spent close to 2mill and that is soooooooo not doable! they all like SAV being a destination getaway, so for right now, we’re going to stay in the land of fresh shrimp, oysters, and soft shell crabs! xox

      • Same with me. When I told my moms what we were spending on a house in NJ she said I could get a palace for that kind of money in Cleveland. But the job is out here. Clevo is a terrible daily commute into Manhattan

  19. I’ve been away for a while. (bad friend, BAD friend)…

    But I brought your sordid life up this morning with co-workers (in particular, how much you probably are kicking yourself for abandoning your rent-controlled place) and realized my children are no longer infants and I might be able to have some time for myself. So I’m back! And the news about the chapbook is fantastic. Congratulations, friend!

    Give your anonymous wife a hug and kiss from me. 😉

    • Guess who’s back, back again
      Shady’s back, tell a friend
      Guess who’s back, guess who’s back
      Guess who’s back, guess who’s back

      I will pass along the hug + kiss. Hello to your lovely bride.

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