Readers have been asking a book version of these bus stories of mine for some time now. You may remember that I’m represented by Eric Myers, of Myers Literary Management, in New York. Eric Myers is a mensch and a man ahead of the curve, because he believes, accurately, that what people want now are books that celebrate compassion, especially between those of diverse ethnic, economic and class backgrounds. There’s a trend in books that’s on the point of tipping into burgeoning being.
In these divisive times, snarky outrageousness has become ordinary. When snarky outrageousness is ordinary, the new radicality can only be nuance and kindness. Acceptance. I don’t know how we got to where these things have become refreshing and unusual, but that is where we are, and Mr. Myers, mensch that he is, has had to suffer what all forward-thinking trailblazers must endure: those who are afraid to deviate from the status quo.
Realists are forever doomed to mediocrity, Lukas Richter once told me, because they lack the necessary naivete to believe in the possibility of great things happening. Trailblazers find this boring and tiresome, but we know it’s part of the game. We put up with doors closing in our faces for months or years on end, because we know. Eric and I are just waiting around for the publishing world to catch up. My stories and media platform indicate how well a national book would do– especially as all major cities in the US are currently experiencing the issues we discuss here.
You won’t be surprised to hear the big houses are not the most adventurous of risk-takers. As ever though, Eric’s a man ahead of the curve, and I applaud him for taking a stand in that lonely place. It’s how things get done. Nobody, not one soul, was ever remembered for sticking with the status quo.
While he and I wait around for New York to figure out that people like reading about people being nice to each other, I have a surprise for you.
I’m releasing a limited-run book version of my bus stories that will, as of this writing, be available for one day only, and only in person.
This isn’t the New York book. This is different. This is smaller, but you want it that way. It’s special, private, exclusive. This is a treat for those of you in Seattle, you who know intimately the face of transit and housing and urbanism here, and a gesture of my gratitude.
My solo art show on October 13, hosted at ArtForma, is also a book launch. If you’re there, you’ll have the opportunity to buy (for a mere $20, to cover print costs) a book that celebrates the best of what my blog has to offer.
This won’t be your standard best-of-the-bus stories narrative compilation of the most popular entries (that’s what the New York book would be). No, this is more exclusive than that. These are the deep cuts. The bootlegs. Call them what you want: the stories that are particularly precious to me, the little treasures that longtime readers know are buried in the depths of this site, or those written even before I was invited to The Urbanist, and remain impossible to find again. It’s my own personal curation, and even if a national book is published in the future, there won’t be any overlap in stories (with literally thousands of them, there’s no need). These are the special stories.
I’m also happy about this book because it’s the fruit of collaborations with artist friends I care about. If you’re involved in graphic design in Seattle, you’ve heard of Tom Eykemans, a book designer at Lucia | Marquand and formerly UW Press. He’s a friend of mine, and a genius: the book’s design is inspired by a bus schedule, and it will be published by Tome Press. Jacqueline Volin is a longtime editor and was the editing, design, and production manager at UW Press. She has performed here with aplomb on editing duty. And if my enthusiasm isn’t good enough, we have endorsements from Seattle Review Of Books’ Paul Constant, Fresh Ground Stories’ Paul Currington and The Stranger’s Charles Mudede.
In an age where anything is searchable, knowable and buyable, it’s the stuff you can’t get with a click that has unique value. The stories I write celebrate authentic kindness happening in real life between real people. It only makes sense for the book to premiere in the tangible world, in the elemental truthfulness we were born in a bath of. People talking to each other in a room. While Tom and I hope to make the book available both online and through a bookstore in the future, we can’t guarantee with any certainty that’ll happen, and due to the personal nature of this venture, I’m doubtful.
But for at least one day, it will exist. I want to put this book into your hands– in person.
See you Saturday, October 13th.
Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.