Tag Archives: Sex in America by Marilyn Jaye Lewis

If You’re Gonna Give Me Idiotic Book Covers…

Then I suggest the one above!

It actually offends me less and makes about as much sense as most of the book covers I’ve been given over the last 30 years.

It’s a losing battle, though, one which I gave up fighting a long time ago. And except for Richard Kasak (a publisher who died quite a few years ago), I only got the covers I wanted when I designed the books myself.

And I only bring this up today because yesterday I was rudely awakened to something that really bothered me. (Yesterday was a big day for that kind of thing.) I was trying to investigate further this Neptune & Surf French audio book link I had seen because I wanted to write to my publisher in Paris.

I soon discovered it’s not really an “audio book.” Meaning, it’s not the entire book.  It’s excerpts. Still,  I’m pretty sure the amount of content included violates my contract. But I was soon overwhelmed by too many things that sort of “assaulted” me that I got depressed, gave up and said, I’m not dealing with this. Just let it go, Marilyn.

This particular French edition has been out for 8 years already and I had completely forgotten that the publisher changed the title of the book from Neptune & Surf to Sex in America. That had bothered me when it happened, even though, technically, I understood what the publisher was getting at, I still thought that it both: a.) only vaguely summed up what the book was about; as well as, b.) hugely overstated what the book was about.

Then they gave it this horrible cover, even though I had asked them not to give me a cover picturing a girl in her underwear. Technically, she’s in sparkly stockings and a necklace, so I guess she’s not really in her “underwear”. However, when I finally saw the cover back at my desk in America (where I was probably having Sex), it quietly enraged me, since I had specifically asked them, en francais!, not to do this.

Then, I remembered that they had deleted the novella, The Mercy Cure, from this edition because they thought that it was “too complicated.” This meant that this edition only contains 2 novellas, Gianni’s Girl (one of my most popular stories ever, about Italian bootleggers and a gang-rape in Chicago in 1927 – that’s so American, right?  – but I was glad they didn’t tinker with that), and the novella Neptune & Surf – which they changed to Neptune Avenue. (And, yes, technically, that title is easier to grasp and perhaps makes more sense, but I gave it the title of Neptune & Surf for very specific reasons, mostly because the story was written for and dedicated to Holly and all of our wonderful years of hardcore debauchery together on Coney Island. The title means a lot to me and to her.)

But all of that taken together means that no one on earth would possibly connect Sex In America with Neptune & Surf unless they were psychic in some sort of seriously scary way.

Plus the price of the book – a mass market paperback (in French) containing two novellas – is almost 17 dollars! That seems crazy to me.

So that depressed me. I don’t like broken links in the chain of commerce and product identity.

(And it also bothers me that Little, Brown, in London, somehow managed to put out into the international search engines that “Marilyn Lewis” is the author of their digital edition of Neptune & Surf, even though, all over their website, I’m “Marilyn Jaye Lewis”, which makes a huge difference because there are about 500 billion women in the world named “Marilyn Lewis.” Yet another annoying broken link in the chain of commerce and product identity!)

Anyway, at the beginning of the digital reading, the French woman who reads the excerpts of Neptune & Surf (aka Sex In America) says very complimentary things about the book and about the caliber of my writing. Extremely kind things. Which was nice. Still, the whole thing is prefaced by the concept of: Good writing in bad books and about how this is sort of a dirty secret of publishing houses – this good writing in these bad books that are hidden in dark corners of bookstores. (All of this was said in French, by the way, which only made it sound more authoritative.)

I probably don’t have to tell you that this really upset me. Even though most of my books have sold well and have not been relegated to dark corners in bookstores. I of course understood the point she was trying to make and it’s a public conception that I’ve been up against throughout my entire career.

It’s upsetting to think that all these decades later, I’m still up against this.  Yesterday was just not a good day for me. First, the entire universe seemed to want me to come to terms with the reality that Tom Petty is dead, and then come to terms with the reality that people will only find out that I’m a good writer if they happen to find themselves furtively lurking in the dark corner of a bookstore…

Plus that whole feeding frenzy over buying the Nick Cave ticket yesterday morning was also very disturbing to my equilibrium. (At Town Hall, it’s called Nick Cave Words + Music, btw, not Conversations with Nick Cave.) (I don’t think this means that he’s just going to say a bunch of words, and that he only saves actual “conversations” for people who aren’t American…)

Anyway, normally, I refuse to participate in stuff like that. I just can’t stand that feeding frenzy set up.  And I’m sure this morning’s sale will be so much worse, since it’s the regular tickets.

Obviously, I want all of Nick Cave’s endeavors all over America to sell out. [UPDATE: Town Hall indeed sold out in under half an hour –  Ed.] Loyal readers of this lofty blog  are probably really tired of me bemoaning the fact that most non-big city Americans do not even know who he is. Still, I was so seriously tempted to just abort the whole thing yesterday, it was making me so insane:

CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again! CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again! CLICK, Oops! Sorry, that ticket’s gone! Try again!

Over and over and over. And it happens at warp speed. You’re watching all the little blue dots on the seating map disappear in nanoseconds. Jesus fucking Christ, you know? What is that? It’s one of the things I hate about doing stuff online.

I would not even do something like that for myself, if for some convoluted reason I had to buy a ticket to hear myself speak. I’m definitely someone who moves quickly to: Fuck this shit, and then goes back to whatever it was I’d been doing. But, alas. Not for Nick Cave having a conversation. (And in that movie, 20,000 Days on Earth, when we go with him to his “therapist’s” office? Oh my god! That was the most ingenious thing I ever saw in my life. I’d probably sell my house to afford a ticket to go to therapy with Nick Cave.)

I digress. I’m just saying, I don’t like that kind of thing – buying tickets in that fiercely competitive way. I feel like I’m being spiritually eviscerated by the Internet. And I don’t even have a question I want to ask him.  Well, actually, I have an unending list of questions I want to ask him. Daily, I’m asking him questions in my head, from the moment I wake-up in the morning until I go to sleep at night, but these are not questions that would interest anyone else on earth. And a lot of the questions people do ask him are actually really, really cool questions. I’m actually very eager to hear what other people want to know.

So I stuck with it and got my ticket… And I’m happy, but the process sucked the life out of me for awhile.

So yesterday was a challenge.  But I’m going to try to make today a lot better.  This morning, at breakfast, I was once again listening to The Big Jangle (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, from the Playback collection) and just loving every moment of it, but also thinking, Man, these songs are over 40 years old. He died. Shouldn’t I be putting it to rest now? But the tears started to come again and I just can’t go there. I can’t. I have to shift gears and tell myself, He’s alive and well and only 30 years old and living inside my little tabletop jukebox.

And life, as it were, goes on….

Thanks for visiting, gang. Hope you have a perfect Friday wherever you are in the world! I love you guys. Seriously. I mean that. See ya.

Well It didn’t feel like Sunday
Didn’t feel like June
When he met his silent partner in that lonely corner room
That over looked the marquee
Of the Plaza All-Adult
And he was not lookin’ for romance
Just someone he could trust

And it wasn’t no way to carry on
It wasn’t no way to live
But he could put up with it for a little while
He was workin’ on something big

Speedball rang the night clerk
Said, “Send me up a drink”
The night clerk said “It’s Sunday man, …wait a minute
Let me think
There’s a little place outside of town that might
Still have some wine”
Speedball said, “Forget it, can I have an outside line?


It was Monday when the day maids
Found the still made bed
All except the pillows that lay stacked
Up at the head
And one said, “I know I’ve seen his face
I wonder who he is?

And the other said, “He’s probably just another clown
Workin’ on something big”

c- 1981 Tom Petty