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Monday, December 14, 2009

Book of the Year + 2009 news

Wouldn't it be surprising if a little novel published in a foreign country and in a limited edition caught a "Book of the Year" notice anywhere in the U.S.? We don't seem to pay that much attention to books in short runs, published on the other side of the ocean. I didn't imagine such a thing--though I've been on such lists before, the idea of Val/Orson even making a "Top Ten" list never drifted anywhere near my mind.

But here it is at the end of a list by John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture:

Book of the Year:

Val/Orson. Marly Youmans. PS Publishing. I quote from Catherynne Valente's excellent introduction to this novella: "It is Shakespearean in its sensibility, with its enchanted wood, its twins, its doubling and quadrupling of couples and families, its fairy brood. It is difficult to say that it is a fantasy novel, and difficult to say it isn't." The word "magical" has been overused and misused to such an extent that it has perhaps lost its potency, but this tale, set among the redwoods of Northern California, is truly magical. I'm sorry it is not as easily obtained as the others on this list, but I can attest—having ordered it from the UK myself—that it is by no means inaccessible. And you will be amply rewarded. More than any other book I read in 2009, this one insistently came to mind.

I was very, very surprised; I am even more pleased!

(And see the post below for news about a Christmas sale on Val/Orson and other P. S. Publishing books...)

* * *

Here are a few more good bookish things that came my way in 2009:

One of them has to be publishing Val/Orson with publisher Pete Crowther and editor Nick Gevers's P. S. Publishing (U.K.). A bonus on this was getting to mull ideas with my penpal Clive Hicks-Jenkins and then see him draw out of his magical hat a most marvelous cover/jacket. In addition, I got to know Robert Freeman Wexler, writer and book designer.

On top of all that, Clive sent me the painting for the jacket...

I am very glad to have a forthcoming hardover / softcover collection of poems: The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011). Our times are not of the best for poets, particularly for ones like me who like to romp in the mind-freeing chains of formal verse... To be asked for a manuscript in these days is sweet. The title poem can be seen here (scroll down)..

At last I have written a book for my third child. I'm not quite done--still typing in changes scribbled on the manuscript--but am almost there. That makes one book for each child of mine, and so may be the end of children's books for me, but who knows?

Last, I have had some encouragement in the midst of the doomy gloom that swirls around publishing by way of a bountiful--a quite exceptional--crop of queries from publishers and editors this year. This despite the fact that I have never received what is known as “a push” in the industry… Encouragement is a lovely thing for a “mid-list writer” who clings to her own way of making poems and stories.


  1. That's wonderful news, Marly! Congratulations!

  2. Lovely, Marly. A wonderful book that I cherish owning and a story that I will never forget.

  3. Oh Marly, big smackeroos on both cheeks! Well done my friend. I couldn't be happier for you. A well deserved honour. And my first made to order dust-jacket/cover on an award-winning novel too! Glad to be working with the best!

    Word Verification: Eques! Which sort of drifts toward another book completed this year. Hey ho!

  4. Thanks, Robbi, Phil, and Clive--and Zoe, I shall have to take a peek back over at Wonderland later on.

  5. What Happy, Happy News, Dear Marly!!
    And so richly deserved!!
    I feel like doing a little jig for you.

  6. Congratulations! Any advice for U.S. booksellers that would like to obtain copies? - City Lights - Sylva, North Carolina

  7. zephyr, jigs are welcome!

    Perhaps somebody there can drop you a note, or perhaps I should send you a link... I'll see what's best.

  8. Hey Marly, pretty neato!

  9. More, re acquiring the book. Why not purchase directly from P.S. Publishing?

  10. Robert,

    Hey, Robert, thanks--pretty surprising!


    For some reason blogger clipped off the link you added, but people can always either go to the main P. S. page and search or else go to and hope to the "Val/Orson" page. Good thought.

  11. Hi there, MBW--

    I wonder what you are up to, now that the poem a day blog is no more... Drop me a note some time!

  12. Good News for you Marly!
    And I'm wondering about your wonderful sir name....where did it come from and does it reflect your family history?

  13. Thanks, Jan.

    My surname is not spelled the way it was a few generations back; it used to be "Yeomans."

    Four "Yeomans" brothers shipped to New York before the Revolution. One, oddly enough, settled not far from where I live now. The other three went to Georgia. No doubt that was a mistake, financially and historically speaking!

    And their name may have referred to the fact that their ancestors were yeomen, or small farmers--freeholders. As my paternal grandfather was a sharecropper, we seem to have sunk in the world after the onslaught of civil war and the Depression and after!

    But I think a yeoman also referred to a certain class and could also be tradesman or sheriff or some sort of servant in a noble household (like the "Yeoman of the Guard" or "Yeoman of the Chamber," etc.). English and Welsh archers were yeomen. It could be simply a follower of a lord, so it's not very clear what the name meant for us. It was also a name applied to hard workers...

    So who knows! I know a lot more about my mother's family than my father's. As far as I know, my ancestors came primarily from England, Wales, and Scotland (sometimes by way of Northern Ireland), and it appears that there's a little French on my father's side.

    And now I go back to cleaning for in-laws and lashing my daughter on to finish the "common app" for college...

    Happy 6th day of Christmas, Jan!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.