Wednesday, October 26, 2016


In 1991 we republished Daphne Athas’ Entering Ephesus which was originally published by Viking Press 20 years earlier. The critical response to our edition was both glorious and exceptional, gaining high praise from The Christian Science Monitor, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Kansas City Star, and several other newspapers.

Daphne, now 92 years old has not lost her touch. Still part of the faculty at the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill, her observation are always both classical and timely, as in this latest blog, Humpty Trumpty, as she comments on our forthcoming election on November 8th—one day shy of my 82 birthday.  May I be as surefooted if and when I reach her present age ten years from now. With that, I turn this blog over to Daphne...

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       Gram-O-Rama Guru Column    

“Humpty Trumpty sits on his wall.     
       Preaching his best brand of spite to us all.”             
If younger generations, from Age 55 down ever watch gangster movies (1930's and 40s) on Turner Classics or elsewhere, they’ll come across:  “I’ll Smack you in the Kisser”.   In those days the taunt was irresistible, and the kids reveled in it when play-fighting death in the schoolyard.

What do the words mean?  Smack means HitKisser means Face.  Trump, who loves kissing women hasn’t noticed where he’s placed himself in history. He’s kissing like a smacker, leaving the American contemporary electorate to try to keep up with his passion for the old-fashioned.  He’s reversing vocabulary.  Cultural change has outpaced him but left the electorate upside down. Call it a turmoil of confusion.   

He makes kissing a ‘Hit” on women. Women, who have, from the Sixties, exercised in Gyms, practiced boxing to get into the men’s game, and tried to figure out where the boundaries are, so rife on radio, with different views on female and male morality and between power and love.  Multiply that exponentially and you arrive at a cultural morality in conflict with individual morality.  We’ve got a mish-mash of a locker room, athletic hero worship, fraternity guy culture (male) versus reasoned wonks (male and female), bookish nerds (male and female) and concerned middle-class parents.  Hacking aficionados have begun practicing locker room slang on the national level and Russia with its imperial tradition of czars sports a Putin who is apparently allowing cyber interference in US elections.
Distinctions abound but don’t tally:  Male TV Pundits practice Womens Righteousness.  Puritans of self-righteous disposition (men and women) rise to the challenge.  What if your nine-year-old son  ‘touches’ or ‘smacks’ the girl behind him in line and is called up by the principal?  How do you parent him correctly, advising him not to do this because if he were a fourteen-year-old boy he would be deemed a Rapist?  
Verbs change into nouns and nouns into verbs instantly before our tongues can wag left. The word Rapist blooms like a Fourth of July rocket.  Fields of voters are freed of old PC mandates rusted into media cyber systems.  Hardware can’t compete with human software or the resultant lightning changes in public persiflage.  Spell out exactly who did what to who.
Roger Ailes, fired as CEO of Fox News takes a job as a Trump campaign advisor, hopping from one million dollar CEO job to another.  Top echelons of governance and Wall St. are white-faced with shock. Your Bushes and other Republican leaders must decide whether they endorse or do not endorse the man they’ve chosen as a candidate.  They say they do not endorse Trump, they merely support the Republican candidate.
Paul Ryan is cryin’.  The space between ‘ Kisser’ and ‘Smack’ widens. 
Trump says he’ll sue the New York Times for front-paging women whose voices reach trembling mode while their mouths laugh, and one finger wipes a teardrop off a cheek, describing where Trump’s hands were groping—upper torso or up the skirt?  The woman is courageous, laughing and crying simultaneously.  We middle-class people admire her.
It is laughable, but ‘concerning’, our newly invented fashionable word. I ponder joining the rallying cry of "Rape!' streaming onto the airwaves.   Women have accepted ‘mens' behavior as normal' because 2,000 generations have said it’s so.  Power is the proof.
The qualities women have been recognized for are their wiles and beauty. It’s been so ever since Cleopatra; they’ve bought into being despised, worshiped, reviled, and worst of all, discouraged.
So far TV pics of the 20 or so women volunteers telling their 'Trump stories have had more effect than printed outrage. A picture on TV is worth a thousand sermons.  Ever since Zeus blamelessly raped goddesses, young boys and nymphs and up through the day Coach Sandusky entered Pennsylvania prison, the world has waited. 
Whether women’s wiles and under-estimated intelligence have failed, the humiliation still goes on.  Women, young boys, and girls —all the less powerful humans—know it.  It’s embedded in various cultures.  Power is Reality.
Simultaneously, perfidious Eve of the Bible and the blatant victim-witches of Access Hollywood are still alive and kicking despite Arthur Miller's Crucible.   These women are laughed off and Trump shouts "Lies! Conspiracy!”   Does he believe what he’s saying? 
Women—even majors in the Air Force—are still the bitches who had the sons, except, of course, for the virgin, Mary.  And of present protestors Michelle Obama is the most convincing, a black woman whose family worked their way into the middle class, not so she could become a President’s wife, but as a person who knows how to use the vocabulary of the heart with the same measure of passion and reason that Socrates and Jesus lost their lives for.  I hear the lonesome Warrior Wolverettes howling with increasingly justified intensity outside Hotel Doctor Trivago’s window, and as compensation in the snowy wilderness, I write this observation:  Knock your block off is not the answer       
Repetition sells products. Trump says if you repeat something enough people believe it.   Gertrude Stein in her famous repetition riff says:  “Loving repeating is always in children. Loving repeating is in a way earth feeling?”       
So what is Trump selling?  His name as a product?  His name as president?  Or his name as ‘earth feeling’? “I am the only one who can make America great again.”  The sound is a clarion which contains many rhymes:  “Trump.  Pump.  Hump. Dump.”
Repetition can sell, but it can also stop the listener cold.  Look out for repetition in the next two weeks. Watch how we will go with the flow.  Repetition is the answer.  Repetition is our modern Petition. Repeat after me, sayeth the teacher....

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DO SHARE THIS BLOG WITH OTHERS and comment on it directly to me at The Cockeyed Pessimist and also direct your comments to Daphne at

I also welcome any of you out there in the electronic Neverland to submit your own blog proposal that we might post in the near future.  My direct email is

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Twenty-seven-year-old Brian Skulnik, who has been the best Managing Editor we’ve ever had during his four-year term, is off to new challenges after October 14 to work with Rosetta Books in Manhattan. Succeeding him is a younger woman, twenty-six-year-old Emily Montaglione, who lives 10 minutes away from us. There’s a lot for her to get used to, but there is no question that she will be up for this new task. Emily also brings her own literary talents, as she has been reading four books a week for over a decade.  One couldn’t ask for a better replacement. You can reach her directly by email at or at our office weekdays from10 in the morning until 5 P.M. at 631-725-1101.

With that, as co-publisher along with Judy and Chris Knopf, it’s my pleasure to introduce her, for this is her blog.
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This past September I had the wonderful occasion to become acquainted with Martin and Judith Shepard and The Permanent Press here in Sag Harbor. It was amazing to see the publishing process and how many wonderfully exciting books were being created. I was inspired by their love of literature as well as their dedication to all types of authors. I knew at once that I wanted to work with them.

I had the opportunity to grow up surrounded by books and with parents who read to me every day. This early love of literature developed quickly.  Soon I was trying to read whatever I could get my hands on.  Once I could write my name, I got my library card which let me explore the local library to my heart’s content. I consider myself lucky to have been able to spend such large parts of my formative years between the pages of a book.

The love of literature didn’t stop there; my first job was at my local library. At fourteen years old I got the assignment of shelving books in the children’s department. Looking back I probably read more than I put away, but I got to spend every weekend surrounded by my favorite stories. In my teens, books were my best friends. I would finish class assignments quickly because I would often find that I had already read the material some time ago. One very kind English teacher introduced me to the classics. I discovered a love for Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Dickens and Chaucer.

By the time I graduated high school, most of my English degree was finished and I went on to declare a major in English literature. Once again my literary world was opened up further. More classics were discovered as well an even deeper love for medieval and Victorian literature. At that point, despite my degree being completed, my advisor insisted I stay and take another major. I decided the most compatible choice would be a psychology degree. This choice gave life to my other passion, child psychology. I went on to graduate school soon after for psychology and as they say, the rest is history.

Despite my choice in graduate study, my love for a good story never waned. I continue to read everything I can, and my taste for fiction has only grown. If there has been one constant throughout my life, it’s been books—a continuing source of comfort, Joining The Permanent Press has allowed me to continue this endeavor as I now work in a place where a good book is never more than an arm’s length away.

I’ve found, with all the new books that are coming out next year, hard to pick a favorite.  There’s something for every type of book lover from comedy, to romance, and mystery. Whether it’s a soul searching coming of age story like Play House due out in April, or a chilling tale of psychopathy, The Mask of Sanity due in March, The Permanent Press has something for everyone. While it may be difficult to choose only one favorite, it’s not difficult at all to find something you will want to read.

I think one of the joys of working for an independent publisher is the opportunity to experience the creation of stories. We get to work hands on with an author from start to finish, seeing the growth of a novel from a few submitted pages to a beautiful hardcover that we can share with the world.  At The Permanent Press it doesn’t matter what a writer’s background or status is. All that matters is the story they’ve entrusted us with and we look forward to sharing their stories with you.