The 2010 Book Release Event

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Joseph Zitt reads from and discusses “The Book of Voices” at Borders Books and Music, Beachwood, OH, on 16 November 2010. Excerpts include “Elisheva (Prologue),” “Jonah,” and “Jushab-Hesed.”

Notes from the original website’s blog:

The book release event went well. The size of the audience was just about exactly what I expected, and almost everyone bought the book. I’ve posted the video here, as shot by my trusty no-frills videocam, which I clamped onto a bookshelf in the store.

One thing I realized in doing this: my written voice and speaking voice almost seem like completely different languages. I had written out exactly what I wanted to say for about half of the presentation, but reading it, I sounded like the World’s Dullest Rabbi. I knew, however, that when I’m just talking about the book, I get almost hyperanimated.

When I told my friend Gail Stuehr, who has a lot of experience in publications and presentations, about this, she recommended that I reduce what I had written to an outline and work from there. She assured me that I already knew what to say, and just needed to structure it.

It worked, I think. You can see the contrast at the beginning of the event. I did read the one page that I had written, to hit all the points with which I wanted to open, and reading it, I sounded like I was, well, reading.

After performing the first of the texts from the book, though, I put my notes down where I could see them on the table, started just talking, and whooosh. There’s an immediate difference. It also helped that one of my wackier friends frequently interjected questions, which I was able to answer in the flow. (Getting back on track after she peppered me with questions about Elijah’s contact with space aliens was a challenge, though looking back on it, her theory might not be all that much more outlandish than mine.)

I’m pleased with how the sections of the book that I read turned out, since I was able to take on the characters’ voices and move with them. It helps that, by design, I wrote each of the 49 pieces as if the character were speaking aloud. I think that comes through.

I do wave my hands around a lot, but I think that’s a good thing, as it’s more interesting to watch than if I were just standing there.

I hope to do more of these events. If anyone’s interested, you now have a sample of what I do.

By the way, the video is not only at Vimeo, from which I embedded it here, but at the Community Video site at, released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license.


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