July was pretty dead for book appearances: the entire month should have been renamed “Property of J.K. Rowling.” Event organizers at bookstores could hardly think about anything that didn’t involve brooms and magic wands. But Saturday marked a return to the publicity circuit with a well-attended reading at the Barnes & Noble in Freehold. I do love to see a table in the front of the store piled high with copies of The Last Three Miles, and once the reading was over I had the pleasure of meeting several descendants of Teddy Brandle, the labor boss who figures in the story. Yesterday I learned that the distinguished essayist Lewis Lapham included The Last Three Miles on his quarterly list of recommended books, which was a welcome bolt from the blue.
Next I’ll be appearing at the Spring Lake Public Library for a 7:30 p.m. reading on Monday, August 27. As you may know, Spring Lake is one of the prettiest towns along the Shore and has a population that tilts heavily toward Irish-American, so I expect Frank Hague will be the focus of interest. The bridge disaster in Minneapolis has refocused attention on the wretched state of our infrastructure, and the Freehold appearance was the first where the design of the Skyway itself prompted more questions than the politics and labor war that surrounded its construction.
Though I don’t think the Skyway is going to collapse anytime soon, its design and construction offer a museum-quality example of how political interference can undo engineering work. Come on to the library on August 27 and I’ll be happy to tell you more.