Making Book

By Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book
Now available in a (slightly) corrected second edition

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, September 9, 2003:

While at WorldCon last week, I had opportunity to go to dinner on two consecutive nights with Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden--friends and mentors and editors of mine in the field who are both thoroughly engaged in the business end of the field and the fannish, amateur (as in "one who loves") end of the field. On the first night, Teresa mentioned that her collection of essays (mostly collected from fanzines, APAs and the like), Making Book, was going into its third printing. I realized that I had seen this book on innumerable bookcases at friends' writerly apartments around the world, a kind of recognition symbol of membership in a fraternity of publishing and fannish insiderdom, but that I'd never read it myself. So I rushed out and bought one of the few remaining second edition printings still available for sale, had Teresa sign it, and started to read it in bits and bites.

This is a terrific book. I mean, I had no idea. It is a convulsively funny, shrewd and sharp collection of anecdotes well-told, observations well-observed and jokes hilariously cracked, all the while tracing secret histories of fandom, the ins and outs of being diagnosed narcoleptic at a time when such diagnoses were considered spurious and radical by much of the field, of the gypsy life of a con-running, APA-publishing foremother of the blogging masses whose "personal publishing revolution" has its origins in the dim days of mimeographs and ditto machines.

Oh, and don't miss the "On Copyediting" piece, which began as an internal publishing memo and is a sterling example of the species of bureaucratic documentation that can become a lasting work of art.

I've been thinking about which bit I wanted to quote here, and today on the BART I nearly fell out of my seat laughing at this passage:

Unfinished letter (New York, c. 1984): Take the "A" Train: We're in New York now, living a few blocks from the 190th street "A" train stop. I want someone to do a new musical arrangement of "Take the 'A' Train." It would be played at half the normal speed, and partway through the band suddenly stops and just sits there for fifteen minutes while the conductor cups his hands around a microphone and makes muffled announcements in Mandarin Chinese and the audience groans in unison. Then the band would play a few more bars and stop again, while the conductor announces that everyone sitting to the right of the center aisle must go find a seat on the left side and vice versa. Any member of the audience not complying will be forcibly seized and carried out, to be later deposited in Far Rockaway. And all that jazz.
BTW, Teresa's blog is every bit as sharp as her book, but harder to read on the subway.

Other reviews:

Dave Langford:
"Teresa Nielsen Hayden is a bloody good writer."

Emma Bull:
"Making Book is like a tea party with E. B. White, Dorothy Parker, and M. F. K. Fisher (and imagine what they would have said about Iguanacon!). Teresa Nielsen Hayden is smart, funny, satirical, sensitive--a treasure of an essayist."

Steven Gould:
"An orrery of a book, all bright shiny bits whirling around and just when you think it's all random it clicks and you can see that the prose precesses with the drunken grandeur of a Galilean moon."

Beth Meacham and Tappan King:
"Making Book is delightful. Also insightful, erudite, laugh-out-loud funny, and more than a little dangerous."

Steven Brust:
"Maybe I'll go to sleep one night and wake up as Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I'd like that. Every time I wrote something, I'd just close my eyes and imagine people like me giggling and then sitting up straight going 'Hey! I hadn't thought of that!' And, geez, I'd know everything. I mean, I'd understand about the languages of Canada, the languages of copyediting, and the languages of narcolepsy; the true meaning of 'Fred,' the true meaning of 'Jon Singer,' the true meaning of 'Claude Degler,' and the true meaning of the serial comma; and I could explain these languages and concepts so perfectly that everyone else would understand them too, only they wouldn't know how they'd come to understand them so exactly, but they'd nevertheless find themselves thinking 'Maybe I'll go to sleep one night and wake up as Teresa Nielsen Hayden.'"


First edition, February 1994; second edition August 1996
5 x 8" * 158 pages
Trade paperback * $11.00; add $2 for shipping
The NESFA Press
PO Box 809
Framingham MA 01701-0203