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Hot Dog! My First Book!
July 10, 2008 - 12:01pm


I’m thrilled to announce that my first novel, long in the making, has been accepted for publication. It was late and everybody else was in bed when I read the e-mail, but I was so excited I fired up the grill after midnight and made myself hot dogs to celebrate.

The title is A Democracy of Ghosts, and it’ll come out next year under my own name, John Griswold, from a very good literary press, Wordcraft of Oregon. Check them out! Their most recent book, just released, is a novel about the final years of writer Katherine Mansfield’s life.

I submitted to Wordcraft on the advice of novelist Duff Brenna. (Have you read Duff’s Holy Book of the Beard? It’s so powerful and life affirming that it’s like something John Kennedy Toole might have written if he’d lived.) Thank you, Duff, and publisher David Memmott! I’m honored to be in such good company.

A Democracy of Ghosts follows the lives of four couples in the most radical community in America at the time (1922). The town’s ambitions, self-doubts, pain, and social and sexual jealousies contribute to a great violence based on a historical event called the Herrin Massacre, in which seemingly average men, women, and even children tortured and murdered temp workers from upstate, ending an era of rising political power for the working class. The protagonist is based on my grandfather, a state senator and United Mine Workers president for the region, and there are three strong female characters, including one who’s a sort of Shakespeare’s sister.

It’s a novel of ideas as well as strong characters, the first being that just because one has an ability (oratory, physical strength), it’s not necessarily ethical to exercise it. This, it seems to me, applies beautifully to events in our own time.

When the book is released, I hope I can rely on you, dear and faithful reader, to be my regional marketing agent and sell a copy to every person you know. Tell them there's torture, politics, murder, infidelity, drugs, philosophy, a whiff of necrophilia, and one particularly odd gunman whose idea of a joke is to shoot somebody through the neck. Tell them it’s Churm. Hot dog!


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