NIBBLE, LICK, SUCK, AND FEAST

I APPEARED ON 139 TALK SHOWS IN EIGHT MONTHS TO PUBLICIZE A BOOK OF TRASH.

by Davy Rothbart

Last May, Simon & Schuster published a book I put together called Found—a collection of notes, letters, and photos that folks around the country had found and sent in to me, little scraps that give a glimpse into the lives of strangers. I bought a van on eBay and hit the road with my younger brother for an 8-month, 50-state, 136-city tour. The publicity team at S&S managed to get me booked on local morning TV shows in most of these cities. I’d show up at the station around 6:30 a.m., a producer would clip a little microphone on me, and somewhere between weather and sports, I’d sit with one of the morning-show anchors and share my favorite Found notes for two to three minutes.

Early on in the tour, I took these gigs pretty seriously. After all, the publicists and TV stations were clearly doing me a huge favor by trying to help spread word about the book. But by the third week of the trip, I was starting to wonder who exactly, if anyone, was watching the local news at 7 a.m. Blurbs in the alt-weeklies or quick spots on the local public-radio stations seemed to generate ten times the response. Also, while a couple of the hosts of these shows were really cool and genuinely excited about the book, most of them didn’t get the whole idea behind it—but this only increased their chipperness and jaunty dawn enthusiasm. “Those pants are so fun!” they’d say, looking me up and down. “Plaid pants! You’re fun, huh?”

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Davy Rothbart makes Found magazine and contributes to public radio’s This American Life. His book of stories, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, was released by Simon & Schuster last month; this fall, he and his brother are hitting the road again on a fifty-city tour. Details at www.foundmagazine.com.

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