FullSizeRenderKellie Schirmer is Director of Trade Production for The Berkley Publishing Group. Originally from Western NY, she now resides in Bergen County, NJ. When not making books…or reading books… she enjoys genealogy, baking, and travel.


9780141392462The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Originally published in 1844-1845, The Count of Monte Cristo revolves around a young man named Edmund Dantes, whose future is bright. He’s just been promoted and is soon to be married to a beautiful woman, but on the very day of his wedding, he’s accused of a crime he did not commit and is taken away….for a loooong time. Unbeknownst to him, three of his acquaintances, each jealous of him for different reasons, had banded together and plotted against him.

This book is often described as “the ultimate revenge story” and that may be true…the core of the story revolves around Dantes, his transformation into the “Count of Monte Cristo” and how he goes about punishing those who wronged him…but in my opinion, it’s also a story of adventure, friendship, envy, jealousy, love (and love lost), death, loyalty and deceit. Whew!

There are many versions of this book floating around, but if you are interested in a great read I’m recommending you pick up the Penguin Classics Unabridged edition, translated (and with notes and intro) by Robin Buss. The translation is excellent — the 200+ year old story reads as though it was written in present day – and the notes section is exhaustive, which saved me a lot of Googling!)

 Start Reading an excerpt!

9781101075821 2Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

“What do you mean, ‘Angle of Repose?’ she asked me when I dreamed we were talking about Grandmother’s life, and I said it was the angle at which a man or woman finally lies down. I suppose it is; and yet … I thought when I began, and still think, that there was another angle in all those years when she was growing old and older and very old, and Grandfather was matching her year for year, a separate line that did not intersect with hers. They were vertical people, they lived by pride, and it is only by the ocular illusion of perspective that they can be said to have met. But he had not been dead two months when she lay down and died too, and that may indicate that at that absolute vanishing point they did intersect. They had intersected for years, for more than he especially would ever admit.”

Published in 1971 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction in 1972, Angle Of Repose may be one the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read. The story’s narrator is Lyman Ward, a former history professor who was forced to retire due to health issues. He moves into his deceased grandparents’ home and begins organizing their personal effects. As he reads through his grandmother’s correspondence, he reflects on his own life and marriage while imagining his grandparents life living in various mining towns in the west at a time when the land was still wild and untamed.

Start Reading an excerpt!

9780142437254 2On the Road by Jack Kerouac

It took me a long time to pick up On the Road but once I did, I was diggin’ it! There has been so much written about this book, there’s probably nothing more I can add that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll let Kerouac speak for himself. The plot is a simple one….the adventures of two guys criss-crossing the country….but it’s the way the story is told….the frenetic pace….that keeps you turning the page:

“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’

‘Where we going, man?’

‘I don’t know but we gotta go.”

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

Start Reading an excerpt!

The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution and The Federalist Papers

9780143121961 2I’ve always been interested in the historical, but the last few years I find myself interested in the Founding Fathers and the early years of our country. I’ve been reading Ron Chernow’s bio of George Washington, and waiting patiently for the new season of AMC’s Turn.

9780143121978 2I had  been wanting to read The Federalist Papers (which are a series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, making the case for the Constitution) but  I found them a bit daunting. So when I came across these two volumes the other day, I was very excited. Both are annotated by Professor Richard Beeman, who provides context and notes making the text easy to digest. If you have even a passing interest, I would recommend  you check these out. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Start Reading an excerpt!


Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!

credit Fiona Saunders

Seventeen years ago, right out of college and the Radcliffe Publishing Course, I moved to New York and went to work for the charismatic group of editors who founded Riverhead Books. Over the next four years, as an editorial assistant, I would answer phones, make photocopies, mail books and schedule lunch dates in exchange for a master class in the art of being an editor.

I had always wanted to be an editor. I imagined being left alone in a spacious office with a lot of books and papers. It didn’t take a week to realize that the reality of being an editor was very different—and much more exciting—than my fantasy. What I could not have anticipated before witnessing the chaos, the constant interruptions, the endless phone calls and multi-hour meetings around which those editors’ work days revolved, was how captivating the authors would be. I was star-struck by some of them, a little bit in love with others, and scared to death of one or two. But they were never, ever boring, and no two hours, let alone days, with them were alike. I was forced to overcome my natural introversion again and again to find ways to help, to please, to cajole and to befriend these enigmatic creatures.

When I became an editor myself, I realized just how intense and emotional these relationships could be. The authors I chose to work with changed my life. I helped them to make the most of their work, promoted their books both inside and outside the company, and faded into the background when it was their time to shine. I learned a lot by watching them, but I never wished to be one of them. They spent years writing books in private that would become suddenly public, up for judgment. It was exhilarating but terrifying. They nurtured their hopes, but they couldn’t know what publication day would bring.

While I delivered more than my share of good news over the years—got to tell some authors that their books had made the New York Times bestseller list, to enthuse over publicity coups and take them out for celebratory dinners after their Manhattan readings—I felt their disappointment acutely when things didn’t go so well: a bad review, a too-quiet launch, missed flights and poorly attended readings on tour. I loved being their behind-the-scenes support from the relative safety of my office at 375 Hudson Street, where my good friends and I gossiped and celebrated one another’s birthdays with conference room cupcakes.

A writing life would have seemed too messy and risky to the person I was then. I used to tell friends and family who aspired to write books that it was a terrible way to make a living, that if they could imagine doing anything else—ANYTHING—they should go and do that instead. I stand by that advice, and yet my book, That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us, is about to be published by Gotham.

After I‘d been working for Penguin for ten years, my husband and I had the opportunity to reinvent our lives in London—an offer too exciting to pass up. We started a family. I did some freelance editing and ghost-wrote a couple of books. Then I started looking around for a new challenge… and let’s face it, there’s nothing like a couple of little kids to help you get used to mess and risk. When one of my former authors (none other than the brilliant Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) gave me the idea to write a book about the differences between English and American culture through the lens of language, I really wanted to try it.

I spent months doing research and digging up intriguing little stories and bizarre bits of history. It was enormous fun finding my own voice after channeling other voices for so long, but the best part was imagining readers having the same thrill of discovery that I’d felt while working on the book. There are a lot of people out there who love to travel, explore other cultures, and talk about language—this book is for them. It is also for American and English expatriates going through the tortuous process of partial assimilation that I went through (and am still going through). Writing That’s Not English helped me find the humor in this experience.

I could never have imagined how satisfying work could be on the other side of the desk. There are things I miss about being an editor, though—like my colleagues. I want to say that I missed those smart and funny Penguins so much, I just had to work with them again. But the truth is, they rarely call me. Most days I am left alone in the library with a lot of books and papers, nurturing my hopes and wondering what publication day will bring.




American by birth, Erin Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books—including Eats, Shoots & Leaves—for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent.

That’s Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.


I haven’t had many proposals cross my desk in my twenty years as an editor which I felt I was born to edit, but my heart skipped a beat when Andrew Roberts’ agent called to tell me he wanted to write a big, meaty new biography of Napoleon. Now truth be told I have been hunting for a good book on Napoleon for a long time. I’ve bought several (from bookstores), and they’ve generally left me filled with rage – the options seemed to be Freudian psychobabble or ranting indictment: if you take your cue from recent releases you’d think he was a frothing tyrant with blood on his britches. But the truth, as Andrew Roberts reveals in this magnificent biography that draws on a stupendously rich new cash of Napoleon’s letters (33,000 – and those are the ones that have survived, just think what he might have done in the age of email) is altogether more riveting. Napoleon was one of the giants of history. He was an inveterate bookworm who steeped himself in the writings of Caesar and modeled himself on him too, though he also gobbled up Rousseau and Voltaire and the great thinkers of the enlightenment, much like our own founding fathers. I came away from this book thinking that Napoleon was like Washington, Jefferson and Madison rolled into one: he was the visionary general who led France to victory in the series of wars that followed the French revolution (we were lucky not to have angry monarchs on all sides determined to overturn our revolution); he was an erudite intellectual and reformer like Jefferson who drew artists and scientists around him, introduced the metric system and set up the Louvre and France’s still stellar system of grandes ecoles and universities; and he was a state-builder like Madison who drafted a whole new set of laws and established the French national bank.


Now for full disclosure my great great great grandfather on my father’s side was a colonel who fought for Napoleon and a true believer. Napoleon was a meritocratic, which may seem counter-intuitive for a man who crowned himself emperor. But he believed that if you gave people a sense that they were participating in something larger than themselves, they would live up to the moment and surpass your expectations. He was a great leader of men, and I was struck as I worked on the manuscript that modern business leaders would find much in his practice and philosophy to learn from. He was also an unbelievable romantic and his love letters to Josephine are worthy of a harlequin romance. It is true that in the end, in his campaigns in Spain and Russia, he made mistakes that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men. But war is a messy business with many unintended consequences, as we have learned ourselves recently (not for the first time). Andrew Roberts is the biographer Napoleon has been waiting for – he writes like a dream and appreciates his (many) jokes.  And no one is better at telling the story of a battle so that you feel you are right there in the saddle, dodging canon fire and charging into the fray. But you don’t have to be a military history buff to love this book – I’m not particularly, and I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.


Read more about Napoleon by Andrew Roberts

Fall ColorsNothing says fall in New York like the changing of the leaves… well that and apple picking, pumpkin picking, roasted corn, crisp mornings, Pumpkin spiced lattes (or Pumpkin Spiced anything), cider, donuts, the beginning of baking season, sweaters, boots, and scarves! I could go on (trust me) and make a LONG list of all of my favorite fall things, but I will leave you with the abridged version. The short of it is that Fall has arrived in NYC, and while we may still be having 80 degree days, the trees are beginning to tell a different story.

Reading on Deck

To celebrate my love of fall, I took a weekend trip north of the city up to the Adirondacks for a little reading, relaxation, and to take in the changing of the seasons. My first morning I decided to relax on the deck and enjoy the the view. I sipped my coffee and read a bit of the latest book to cross my desk Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Dear Daughter is the Penguin Twitter Book Club Pick of the Month for October. Please join our chat on Tuesday, October 7th and 21st from 2-3PM. You can follow along and ask questions using #ReadPenguin. I am not a big mystery fan, but I am really enjoying this one! Start Reading an Excerpt!

reading lake

After a nice leisurely morning with a cup of coffee and my book, I decided to go for a hike around the lake. I brought my book (naturally), because I don’t go anywhere without one as a rule. You never know when you are going to come across a nice spot to sit and read! Bringing it along turned out to be a good decision, because I think I may have found my new favorite reading hideaway. Not a bad view, don’t you think? It turned out to be less of a hike, more of a walk through the woods. I spent a long time reading on this rock overlooking the lake. Overall I think it was a success.

The rest of the trip was spent apple picking, donut eating, barbecuing, and enjoying a little peace and quiet. It was nice to have a few days away from the city and it gave me a chance to take a deep breath and unwind before jumping back into the work week. October is here and we are busy as ever! New York Comic Con is right around the corner, stop by the Penguin Booth and say hi! We are gearing up for our Holiday promotions and have a number of exciting sweepstakes coming out weekly on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And on top of all of that we have lots of new and exciting books coming out (there never seems to be enough time to read them all!) But enough about me, what are you up to this fall? Any weekend vacation suggestions or favorite Fall activities? We would love to hear about them in the comments!

Happy Fall and thanks for reading! Until next time,



Laura Perciasepe is an Editor at Riverhead Books. She acquires and edits a wide range of literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and works in translation. Originally from Baltimore, she now lives in Brooklyn.




How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid

I cried at the end of this book so you know it’s good. This is Gatsby-ish in its scope; the tale of a young impoverished boy in an unnamed Asian city, on the rise, of course. There’s a love story, a story of success and failure, a family story, all bound up in this remarkable journey, both intimate and universal. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s short yet packs an unbelievable punch.





The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

I know this word is over-used in describing good books, but this book is truly stunning. A work in translation that has won accolades across the globe, this novel begins with a hippo escaped from a Colombian drug lord’s derelict zoo and doesn’t let up from there. It’s a page turner, a monumental story of politics and family, love and violence.





Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

I love all of Nick Hornby’s books but this recent one has a special place in my heart. It’s classic Hornby, full of complicated relationships, humor, sweetness and sadness, and music.







The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

The Vacationers, by Emma Straub

This is the book I’ll be recommending all summer and I only regret that I read it myself before beach season! Emma Straub takes us on a trip to Mallorjca with a New York family that feels very familiar in its dysfunctions and in its bonds. It’s a keenly observed story with heart (that also looks great on your Instagram with its vibrant cover).





Margot, by Jillian Cantor

Margot, by Jillian Cantor

This is a what-if story about Anne Frank’s sister Margot, if she had escaped the war and come to America, living here in the 1950s as her sister became a cultural icon of hope. A psychologically sophisticated novel about sisters, memory, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive – this book became a house favorite at Penguin and it’s un-put-downable (that’s a real book publishing term, promise!).





The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano

The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano

This is another book in translation that I couldn’t recommend more – a completely unique voice and love story that transfixed me when I read it and has stayed with me long after. It’s about two Italian teenage misfits, the mathematics of humanity, recovery from trauma, and love.






Find more books on the Literary Fiction page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 

photo 2I don’t publish a lot of fiction, so when I do, I want it to be extraordinary: surprising,  engrossing, memorable – in short, a special book you’ll remember long after you’re doing reading it. Sundance by David Fuller is all of that – and much more.

Sundance is the story of Harry Longbaugh, a bank robber in the early 20th century better known to the world as the Sundance Kid. Legend has it that Sundance was killed with his partner in crime, Butch Cassidy, in a gun battle in Bolivia in 1908. Sundance imagines a different scenario. Instead of dying in South America, Harry was imprisoned in Wyoming under his real name and is released in 1913 with one goal in mind: To find his wife, Etta, who stopped visiting him in jail several years before.


Harry’s search for Etta leads him from the stark emptiness of the Old West to the bustling chaos of New York City at a time when cultures and classes were clashing. From suffragette protests to the rise of the Black Hand to the digging of the New York City subway system, New York was a place of dizzying change – and unexpected danger.

Sundance is equal parts historical novel, literary thriller, and rollicking adventure story, and it calls to mind books as varied as The AlienistThe Death Instinct, and the novels of C.J. Box and Larry McMurtry.  The author, David Fuller, is both a talented writer and a wonderful storyteller, and he brings his characters to vivid life in the pages of this terrific novel.

Start Reading and excerpt from Sundance.

Read Sundance author David Fuller’s essay on the wife of “The Sundance Kid” and discover more new westerns.

photo 2

Welcome to Penguin This is my desk.

Welcome to 375 Hudson Street!

With the warm weather approaching, things are getting busier and busier here as we gear up for our summer season. Next week Penguin heads to Book Expo America (BEA), the industry book and author conference in New York City, which we are all very excited for. (Stop by the Penguin Booth and say hi if you are attending this year!) We have a lot of great authors going and it should be a lot of fun—look for our BEA wrap-up post coming soon where Amy, Lindsay, and I will all share our BEA 2014 photos and stories!

There is always something going on in our offices and this week (for me at least) it has been a busy one, but let’s focus on the fun bits from the last few days!

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 3.11.34 PM

This Wednesday, the Penguin Twitter Book Club held its second May #ReadPenguin chat with Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…And Other Things You Can’t Tell Martha—my favorite question from the chat was “How do you clean a lasagna spill off the street?” If you are not already joining our Book Club chats you should, because we get to talk about fun things like lasagna (and books too, of course!) Next month we are chatting with Yours for Eternity authors Damien Echols and Lorri Davis.


Beartiz Williams signing her new book THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT


On Thursday, New York Times bestselling A Hundred Summers author Beatriz Williams stopped by to say hello and sign copies of her new book The Secret Life of Violet Grant, which comes out next week on Tuesday, May 27th and which I am very excited to read. Amy and I went up to say hello and grab a picture. See you next week at BEA, Beatriz!

Today, Friday, we have a half-day to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

Just your typical week at the office…and now I am off to sunny (fingers crossed) Long Island to sit outside and enjoy the weekend. What are your Memorial Day plans?

Until next time,


mistakesFirst, open a Twitter account.  Sit on a chair outside of your daughter’s room at night, because she insists.  This lack of personal freedom is the reason that you were able to complete an entire book in nine months.  Now she’s asleep but you stay there, hands hovering over the keyboard.  Know that you MUST TWEET.  The pressure is overwhelming.  No witty quip will be witty enough, so decide to write about politics. Think about politics and draw a blank.  Close Twitter and open the NY Times. Go to “most emailed articles,” where number eight is a piece on making green smoothies. Become deeply absorbed.

Your sister-in-law has generously, patiently followed you around with her fancy camera, taking photos against backgrounds that might make you look like an author.  The pillars of Smith College; a lovely tree beside an academic building that – when you check the camera’s small bright screen – looks like it’s growing out of your head. Finally, you lead your sister-in-law back to your own office and stand against the bright red wall that makes everyone look good.  Click.  The picture pops up over and over when you post media interviews with YOU on Facebook.  Finally, a guy in Florida messages you saying he likes the way you look. “Ick,” says your husband. “Erase it.” Feel put-off and quite flattered.  Wonder if this is what it would be like to online date.  Refresh Facebook every ten minutes to see all of the likes. Smile.

The night before your book is actually published, leave your phone by your bed.  Check email at 1:00 am, 3:00 am and 5:00 am. Imagine bookstore owners around the country tearing into brown cardboard boxes filled with copies of your book, lifting those copies to the light and air.  Cue religious music – you’re Jewish, but this is Christian music, sweet voices of altar boys echoing in a cathedral where the windows are your book cover design made out of stained glass.  No reviews have come in by 5:00, so you rise and eat a nice bowl of pub day oatmeal.

Get your hair streaked with gold.  Wear bright red pants.  It’s the day of your son’s flute recital and so you walk over to the concert hall in this get-up.  This is a small town filled with students who wear pajamas to class and out into the street; this is a town where everyone knows you didn’t have gold streaks before you wrote a book; everyone knows you didn’t own red pants.  Decide not to care. Put on sunglasses to complete the look.  Feel like a show-off.

Wear your show-off outfit to the local bookstore, which has sold-out of the one copy of your book it had in stock – purchased by your colleague.  Talk to one of the booksellers, a tall, placid man with gray hair and the furrowed brow of a serious reader. Imagine that your book isn’t serious enough for him. Follow him around as he shelves novels written by other people, and offer phrases like, “I’m wondering,” and  “it would be great” and “I’d be happy to.”  Finally, he will turn to you and make eye contact, saying a box of your books is due in soon. Refrain from making yourself a total fool by asking – as he turns from you and continues shelving – if he’d like you come back and sign them.  Leave feeling like you have done well because you didn’t jump onto the counter and cry, “Am I not a local author? If you prick me, do I not bleed?”

When your publisher asks you to write for the new Penguin blog, consider the assignment and realize that writing about “anything” is hard. Does this mean you’re not a real writer? Maybe. Open Twitter, and notice that several male crime novelists are now following you. Wonder if this is creepy or nice.  Check Facebook again.  Realize that you’re hungry. You will need something, maybe green smoothie, before starting to do any real work.

jessicabacalI’ve lied to the people who ask, “How did you write a book while having a full-time job? And young children?”

“Fear,” is what I’ve told them, “fear of not getting it done, once I had a contract.”

It’s a nicely self-deprecating answer – better than, “I got it written because I’m AWESOME,” which might be slightly off-putting.  And actually there was some fear motivating me.  Now that the book is done, there is also some feeling of awesomeness, of pride in having finished . . . but the REAL answer to the question, “How did you write a book?” is this: “I was collaborating with a great team.”

Lindsay Edgecombe is my agent; she’s on the right in the photo.  She loved my book idea, and gave me guidance on developing the proposal. Then it was up to me to actually do the work, and the half-done proposal languished on my desk for many months.  Ironically, Mistakes was aimed at encouraging women to take risks, but I wasn’t sure if I was up for the risk of writing a book.  It just seemed SO big – and what if I didn’t finish it?  Also, the original idea for the book was that it would consist of essays I’d have to gather – and what if I couldn’t gather enough?

Luckily, along came Plume’s Kate Napolitano.  She’s my editor, and is just to my left in the photo.  After Lindsay said, “Let’s get this proposal finished” and pushed me to wrap it up, she sent it to several editors.  Kate is one of the editors who then talked to me over the phone, and I could tell that she was full of energy and excitement about the project, that she really “got” it. When Plume came back with an offer, things took a turn for the better.  Kate said, “People at Plume are wondering if you’d like to do the book as interviews rather than essays.” This would mean I’d actually TALK to each of the contributors about their mistakes, interviewing the women myself. I loved it.

Guidance from Lindsay and Kate didn’t end there. Kate had the wisdom to invite me to send her my first completed, written-up interview– and she had a lot to say about it.  Honestly, I wasn’t doing it right, wasn’t crafting the transcript into a story.  But I paid attention to Kate’s feedback and to Lindsay’s, and did better with the next interview, then even better.

When the book was finished and ready to go into the world, along came Milena Brown – that’s Milena on Kate’s left.  Milena is excellent at what she does, which means that she creates publicity fireworks in the most low-key way.  Somehow, she knows exactly who might take an interest in my book, and gets it into that person’s hands.  I imagine that she’s doing this for tens of authors (more?) but she manages to make me feel like she’s got this down, easy.  Even my friends on Facebook have started commenting, “Wow, you lucked-out with your publicist.”

Yes, there was some fear involved, but more importantly, there were these women: Lindsay, Kate and Milena.  They are AWESOME.

Check back Thursday, 5/22 for the next post in this series.

Becky Saletan with CREATIVITYI first had the opportunity to work with Philippe Petit back in 2001, when, shortly after the destruction of the Twin Towers, he wrote a book about his world-famous 1974 high-wire walk between them – what better commemoration could there be? The book was titled To Reach the Clouds, and it became the basis for the Academy Award-winning documentary Man on Wire (and the tie-in edition was retitled to match). At our very first meeting, I said, “You should know before you consider whether you want to work with me that I suffer from terrible vertigo.” Philippe’s eyes went wide and he responded, with what I would come to know as characteristic vehemence, “So do I!” While I knew that the walk had been decades in the planning, it had never occurred to me that this seemingly fearless creature had had to overcome any internal obstacles to perform his superhuman feat.

We had a tremendously exhilarating time working together on that book, and after it was published I stayed in touch, mesmerized by this practitioner of an ancient art form (wire-walking dates to the Middle Ages) and so many others – drawing, magic, carpentry, street-juggling, and of course, writing. I was impressed not only by the amazing number of forms Philippe has mastered but by his unique approach to the creative process, and his exceptionally original insights into it, from how he develops his ideas to how he deals with problems and setbacks to how he executes a finished performance or work of art. I was also struck by how broad an audience the book could apply to, since Philippe himself puts his principles to work in both his performing and nonperforming arts – indeed, lives by them. Most of all, I experienced how much simply being around him and catching his enthusiasm had encouraged me to take on challenges in my own life, to push myself to tackle the im-pos-si-ble (that’s how he saw the word, its syllables stretched between the towers, when he first snuck up to the top of the still-under-construction World Trade Center). And so I suggested to him that he write a book about creativity – which to me was a little like suggesting to Julia Child that she write a book about French cooking, or to Gabrielle Garcia Marquez that he write a novel, an idea so obvious as to be a no-brainer. My husband, however, gets credit for the subtitle, “The Perfect Crime,” which he thought would appeal to Philippe’s iconoclastic personality – and captures beautifully the outlaw sensibility Philippe has cultivated.

I’m incredibly excited about the book that has resulted, which I see as appealing to readers who loved Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird – it’s of that family, so to speak, and at the same time utterly unlike anything I’ve ever read about creativity before. And it contains incredible original drawings by Philippe, which intensify the feeling that you’ve been invited inside the vision of one of the most amazing creators of our time.