Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alan Squire Publishing

I recently received an ER copy of a collection of personal essays put out by a small publishing company called Alan Squire Publishing.  I'll be reviewing this book in a few days, but before I get to that I want to share a bonus story that was included as part of the package.

Included with the book and the obligatory letter from the publisher was a 6 page photocopy of a newspaper story.  I blew it off at first.  One night as I was drifting off, it caught my eye and I became caught up in the story of the man behind this small press.  The newspaper article was from a 2008 edition of The Washington Post Magazine and was by an incredible feature writer by the name of Laura Wexler.

It seems Andrew Gifford the founder of Alan Squire Publishing was heir to the famous Gifford Ice Cream stores which all went out of business when Gifford's father left town with all the money.  Andrew was 10 years old at the time and never saw his father again.

Gifford was left with nothing and eventually found his way to a routine day job trouble shooting for the APA.  In the meantime, he always had this dream to publish books, and so using his own credit card he began to publish.  He has published three books now and has teamed up with the Santa Fe Writers Project to start offering a literature prize.

Thirtysomething Gifford also suffered from a horrible disease  called Trigeminal Neuralgia.  For 14 years he had a searing pain in his face.  Apparently this disease is also nicknamed the suicide disease because the pain is so horrific and apparently very difficult to treat.

So Gifford labors away at his day job, heir to a scandal that rocked the Baltimore ice cream world, and by night labors to produce good books and deals with searing and enduring pain.

The article I read recounted how finally he met a doctor who offered him a risky procedure to end the pain (brain surgery) and after all the years of the most painful existence you could imagine, he woke up after surgery to find his pain was gone.  Andrew Gifford went through a period of time after the surgery where he actually missed his pain.  He fingered the pills he used  to take. He mourned his missing pain like one might mourn a missing lover.

I reread that last page several times.  How could you miss your pain?  Is it true that we can become so attached to even the most horrifying life set backs that we actually miss them when they are gone?  I was amazed at Andrew's story and kept turning that idea over and over in my head.  How could someone miss a pain so awful that you feared breeze on your face or the feel of the shower on your skin?

The newspaper story did exactly what it intended to do.  My heart is very big for this young sweet man, and I hope that his business does well, and I intend to go out and buy and read all his books.  I am telling you to do the same.

Readers, this is the kind of guy we want to succeed.  So take a look at these books and ask yourself if you wouldn't like to read one or two of them. I don't mean to say buy these books cause you feel sorry for a guy who has had a rough life and is trying to do something to make himself a little piece of happy.   I am saying, the books are pretty good and we should patronize this guy because he is a good guy and he is trying to make for himself a little piece of happy.

At least request it at your public library so they will buy a copy of these good, good words.


Steph said...

Thanks for sharing this story!

Santa Fe Writers Project said...

Thanks for the kind words, Esmerelda! The pain was a strange thing. Now three years since the operation, and it's been a difficult journey coming back to life, as it were.

For the record, I'm the founder of SFWP ( Rose Solari is the founder of Alan Squire, but she's a great friend and benefactor. I currently work for Alan Squire as their marketing manager.