Terra Sigillata

Hella HeLa!

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Skloot is PWned, as it were.

I learned late last night that author Rebecca Skloot was to be featured on the cover of this week’s issue of Publishers Weekly. So, I clicked on the site this morning before the coffee was even done brewing and there is our wordsmithing hero.

I know that “The Making of a Bestseller 2010″ is sure to make any author nervous but my reading of the manuscript tells me that the prediction is entirely consistent with the work.

Regular readers will know that we featured Ms Skloot here last week to brainstorm about her upcoming, self-supported book tour following the 2 February 2010 release of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Well, this issue of PW revealed Skloot’s account behind-the-scenes machine behind said book tour, beginning as follows:

A month ago, I’d have thought the idea of organizing my own book tour with the help of my brain-damaged father was nuts. My father, Floyd Skloot, has written several books about the neurologic damage he suffered from a virus in the ’80s–it affected his memory, his abstract reasoning, and his ability to think about multiple things at once. Exactly the abilities a person needs to envision and organize a book tour. And I’m no better. Somewhere between writing a book, taking a teaching job, freelancing, and becoming my own publicist, things got a bit out of control. My office floor is piled with papers, my inbox has thousands of unanswered e-mails, and I scramble to keep up.

The issue also contains an excerpt of the book describing Rebecca’s meeting with Deborah, the daughter of Henrietta Lacks, and how she had done her own research on her mother’s cervical cancer cells. And Sarah F Gold has an excellent piece on Skloot herself and the journey of this book.

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So, congratulations, Rebecca, and may this be the first of many more features on this amazing story.

Publishers Weekly – 9 November 2009


Just a personal aside to put my interest in Skloot and her book into context: That Publishers Weekly chose to feature Rebecca and her book this week is particularly meaningful to me. This coming Friday marks the 20th anniversary of my defense of my PhD dissertation, a work of only four-and-a-half years, which made exclusive use of HeLa cells. In fact, I’ve been following Skloot for about three years now since her New York Times Magazine cover article Taking the Least of You: The Tissue Industrial Complex. I originally read this at PharmMom and PharmStiefvater’s crib (yes, they are so cool that they get the Sunday Times) and was transfixed by the final note that the author had an upcoming book on the woman behind HeLa cells. I’ll write more about my reflections later this week but I have a very personal interest in seeing that the story of Mrs Lacks and her family is broadcast as widely as possible.

Comments

  1. #1 Trayci
    April 20, 2010

    Amazing! i could not put this book down! Thank you! Best book I have read in a very long time! yoaccounts were so vivid that I was physically in every scene!! Bravo!

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