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A Whim, A Book, And, Wow!

May 09th, 2011 @ 5:24pm EDT
When Adam Mansbach, author of “Angry Black White Boy” and “The End of the Jews,” posted on Facebook last June to “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, –Go the — to Sleep,’ ” he was not serious. He was just tired: his then-2-year-old daughter, Vivien, refused to acknowledge bedtime.

“My daughter sleeps fine now, but she used to take upwards of two hours to go to bed,” Mr. Mansbach, who lives in the Bay Area but is currently finishing a two-year appointment at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said in a phone interview. “It becomes very frustrating.”

Mr. Mansbach’s online friends responded so positively to that off-the-cuff post, however, that he decided to write some verses for the imaginary book, which he now describes as a “children’s book for adults.”

Enlisting his friend Ricardo Cortés, an illustrator, and the independent publisher Akashic Books in New York, Mr. Mansbach spent a good chunk of last year making that Facebook whim a reality.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the book went viral.

Over the weekend, “Go the — to Sleep,” which was due to hit stores in October, began climbing the Amazon best-seller list on the strength of pre-orders. After a reading on Saturday, Mr. Mansbach was surprised to see it rank in the top 200 on Sunday. By Tuesday, it rose to No. 3, and then briefly peaked at No. 2 on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was ranked No. 5.

Neither Mr. Mansbach nor his publisher can account for this phenomenon. Galleys have not been distributed, so the only people who have seen the work are a handful of booksellers who received a PDF via e-mail a few weeks ago.

Mr. Mansbach did appear on a panel on Saturday night in Philadelphia, which marked his first public appearance to discuss the work, and that seemed to kick-start a Twitter wave. On Monday, blogs like Boing Boing in San Francisco began to pick up on the book.

“It’s a miracle from the heavens for us,” said Ibrahim Ahmad, senior editor at Akashic Books, noting that without social media “something like this would have been impossible even a few years ago.” The book is being fast-tracked to publication, although there is no set date.

One early fan of the book, Peter Maravelis, events manager at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, said he was not surprised by its popularity.

“I don’t even have kids, and it made me laugh,” Mr. Maravelis said, noting that he thought many could relate to the parenting struggle depicted in the book.

It reminded Mr. Maravelis of when he got an early glimpse of Daniel Handler’s first book in the hit Lemony Snicket series.

“This is unusual, to happen this far in advance,” Mr. Maravelis said. “But it’s the zeitgeist. He completely honed in on it.”
Original Source