Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Stuff

This is just to announce that---although it's hard to tell with rough drafts---I have looked at the beast and I hereby declare that the rough draft of By Dick!: A Novel About the Well-Intentioned Voyages of St. Brendan is now complete (and about 300 pages long). Which is why I haven't been posting much and why posting is likely to be light for a while, as I get the book up to agenting snuff.

But when I'm done with that book, I'd like to start on a nonfiction book that's been in the making forever, called How to Love God and Be Brave. (I was originally going to call it How to Love God and Not Be a Jerk, but I think the new title is more accurate and more sellable.) However---and I've mentioned this before---I also find that when I don't have a specific topic, I tend to circle back and repeat myself.

The book itself would ideally be a diagnosis of the ways in which well-intentioned religious people adhere to beliefs that are more or less predestined to bring out unpleasant behaviors---arrogance, sexism, know-nothingism, etc. And to propose ways of rethinking evangelical theology to avoid the worst tendencies of the faith. Not that I would then follow such a faith, but it's a way of at least making evangelical Christianity safe for an adult multicultural democracy.

Anyway, I'm proposing to divide the book into different sections, identifying things I'm trying to save. So far I have the following:

Saving the Bible (how to read prophecy without being naive; how to read scriptural contradictions without making absurd apologies for them; how to understand the way other traditions understand Bible texts, etc.)

Saving the Mind (how to be an evangelical and not freak out about evolution, homosexuality, etc. This could be a very long section!)

Saving the Soul (how to strike a balance between being open and accepting and being thoroughly naive; how to find meaningful worship without necessarily requiring hell or conversion from the outside)

Saving the Heart (how to be evangelical and have a reasonably healthy attitude toward sex)

Saving Atheism (or How to Be an Atheist and Not be a Jerk).

Note that I don't claim to know the answers to all of these questions (particularly that last one), but it's my hope that if I have an actual goal in mind, my writings on these topics will have better shape and come together more nicely.

So I'm asking: if any of you have any suggestions, or specific questions you'd be curious to see addressed, please let me know. (And for those friends of mine who just want to know about who I was and how I changed, I imagine the whole book will be about 35% autobiographical as well.) And with that, it's time for work.



Anonymous Trip said...

I think your original title is 100 times better. The "Be Brave" one might sell okay at Christian bookstores, but to the average book-buyer it smacks of piousness; the "Not Be a Jerk" one is eye-catching and intriguing, and would lead to a lot of sales in general bookstores.

10/18/2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Cowboy Dave Dickerson said...

I really love my original title, too, but I kept thinking that it would be unlikely to sell to the evangelicals I'm actually hoping will read the thing. But you've re-confirmed my love for the original title, and I guess I'll apply it if the final product matches. Thanks, Trip!

10/20/2006 6:01 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I agree on the jerk title, as well. It would be unlikely to show up on Christian bookshelves anyway. You want something more punchy.

I would actually prefer it to be a little more brash than that, in keeping what will probably be the tone of the book. Maybe in a subtitle: "...on saving the soul without becoming a vapid, mal-adjusted and unpleasant person." Or maybe with a more positive spin: "Devloping the smart, well-adjusted and pleasant Christian". Whatever.

10/23/2006 8:38 PM  

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