LevGrossman

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The Two Weeks When Everything Happened

Einstein said that the reason we have time is so that everything won’t happen at once. This last couple of weeks, I’ve felt like there wasn’t quite enough time to go round.

Two weeks ago I turned 45. The next day — June 27 — my younger daughter turned 4. That same morning, my father died. He was 82.

 

this black rectangle represents the infinite density of what just happened

 

My father was a brilliant, charismatic, strange, intimidating, driven and sometimes very funny man. He may have been the best-read person I have ever met, and believe me I’ve met some well-read people. He was the son of a Chevrolet dealer in Minneapolis, and the first person in his family to go to college, and he grew up to be a major poet and an intellectual force of nature.

He and I had a complicated relationship. We both made our careers reading and writing, but he was an avatar of high culture whereas I dropped out of graduate school to write fantasy novels and glossy magazine articles. We chose different paths. There was some distance between us. It’s something I’m still thinking about and trying to understand, even after his death, and will be for a long time.

By rights that should be the end of this post. If you’ve lost a loved one then you know how incredible it is that life keeps going, but it just does. It won’t stop. Life is fucking callous that way.

The first copies of The Magician’s Land arrived. The Magician’s Land trailer, which we’ve been working on for a few months now, went up online:

I’m so happy with how it came out. It racked up 16,000 views on Buzzfeed in the first 24 hours, so something must have gone right. I only wish we could have used everybody’s videos, we left some fantastic readings on the cutting-room floor. I argued for releasing a whole slew of different trailers, remixed with different clips, but apparently Viking’s budget for video production isn’t infinite. Go figure.

I’m truly grateful to everyone who submitted, and to my fellow authors, who allowed themselves to be turned into living advertisements for my book. I’m extra-grateful to Ian Dorsch, who volunteered out of the blue to do the soundtrack and delivered a brilliant one. I know the trailer’s not actually for me, it’s for getting attention for the book, but it had the knock-on effect of making me feel very loved and supported by the community at large, at a time when I really needed it.

And the week still wasn’t over. That was Tuesday. On Wednesday night I got a call from my producer and the two geniuses who’ve been working on the pilot script for the Magicians TV show since literally last August. They were standing around a speakerphone yelling. Word had come down: Syfy greenlit us. They’re making the pilot.

This is a big break for me. I’ve been talking to people in Hollywood about The Magicians for five years. I’ve seen writers and producers and directors and agents (four of them) and options come and go, but this is the first time anybody has doubled-down and is going to shoot something. People are going to dress up as Quentin and Alice and Eliot and Julia. Someone is going to build Brakebills (or more likely find some place that already looks like Brakebills). Big expensive computers are going to make it look like magic is happening.

My sole contribution to this has been to kibitz a bit and then cash some checks. The people who are actually making the show happen are Michael London, Sera Gamble and John McNamara, and it’s happening because they are extremely brilliant and surpassingly determined. What makes it even nicer is that I really like them personally.

Meanwhile as all this was going on I was having a professional crisis (can’t talk about it, but it’s over now) and writing and closing the cover story for this week’s issue of Time.

Also I’ve been giving interviews about The Magician’s Land. My promotional schedule is starting to rev up. I ought to be posting about where I’m going to be in the next few weeks, and I will do that, very soon, but right now I just cannot deal. There’s some detail on the Events page but basically in the next couple of months I’ll be doing a national tour, plus I’ll be making appearances at Readercon (that’s tomorrow), Comic-Con in San Diego, LeakyCon and Dragoncon, and a bunch of assorted book festivals.

I will post all the details, but I’ve got an early call tomorrow and really badly need to take a shower and stare at the walls for a while. But for now, two dates to remember. One is next week, July 16 at the Bell House in Brooklyn: I’ll be the VIP at a taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another quiz show. It will be very fun. If you need extra encouragement, John Flansburgh from They Might Be Giants will be there too. There. That should do it.

The other date is August 5, which is the official launch event for The Magician’s Land. Come if you can. It’s going to be a bit special.


22 comments on “The Two Weeks When Everything Happened

  1. Feathers McGraw says:

    Will you do George RR Martin-style casting riddles? I am very much looking forward to fantasy-casting this. SO EXCITED!

  2. Alex says:

    Keep your spirit up. I’m sure things will get easier with–yes–time. You have family, friends, and fans who are all here for you!

  3. Dan O'Neill says:

    That trailer made me have feelings. You can call it marketing because I suppose that’s what it is in the end, but the delivery was so unfiltered and honest that it found the chink in my modern armor. Can’t wait to get The Magician’s Land. What a great world you’ve created.

    Sorry about your father. The only way I can deal with death is by not thinking about it.

  4. Jaimie says:

    Holy shit you, that trailer is just amazing. I hate book trailers because they usually don’t make me want to read a book — they make me want to go find a BBC drama with a higher production value, usually — but that made me want to read a book. Your book. Pitch fucking perfect ending it on you like that.

    I saw your news on Twitter a few weeks ago and I’m sorry that everything is happening all at once.

    I’m approaching the ending of Brideshead Revisited and it’s really getting me in the mood for more Eliot. The third book is completely about Eliot right? Right……..?

    Just kidding. I’m really pumped. I was going to get your signed copy from B&N but (1) I want the book the day of and (2) I’m holding out for you signing something in person someday.

    ^^^^ quintessential fan comment. Wrap it up folks.

    Oh wait, wait. LOVE the new blog look. *drops mike*

  5. Congrats! The mourning will take time. It should be on your time table, no one else’s.

  6. Shannon says:

    So sorry for the loss of your father. From experience, I can say, there’s no way around it – so you have to go through it. Take of yourself and we’ll adore you and your books out here, and hopefully see you at a book signing or maybe even DragonCon.

  7. Feathers McGraw says:

    Oh several more things actually:

    – I (almost) hate to be that person, but: Signings in London?
    – I’m inordinately pleased that I’m exactly 29 years older than your daughter (and that you’re 12 years and a older than me. I still have time…)
    – Great book trailer. I want to make a whole trailer by myself because I got an idea and I hope I can get it done in time for the release.
    – I just read somewhere about Christoph Waltz as You-Know-Who and my head just went “!!!!”
    – I can’t wait for the Murs research bits on TV – one of my favorite bits of anything ever

    That’s it though. Also, most importantly: Sorry for your loss.

  8. My condolences, Lev, on the loss of your father. (Oddly, you’re the fifth or sixth person I know who has lost their father in the last few months, including two others within a week of me losing my own back in April. I guess we are all of a certain age.)

    As for your contribution to the Magicians pilot: besides kibitzing a bit, you did after all come up with Magicians. Not bad for a grad school dropout. I think I’d have been better off to have followed your example :)

  9. Tim says:

    My condolences for the loss of your father. Sending good vibes and energy your direction.

  10. Kevin says:

    Condolences on your father. Congrats on the Magicians pilot. And I can’t wait to read the book.

  11. Sarah Browne says:

    So stoked to see you at SDCC! And congrats on the upcoming movie!

  12. Frank says:

    In a less grand analogy to Halley’s comet and Mark Twain, my time at university is beginning and ending with The Magician’s series. The Magician’s came out in my first year, and The Magician’s Land arrives in my last.

  13. K. M. Walton says:

    So very sorry for the loss of your father. I lost my dad when he was 51 and our relationship was complicated as well. You will be in my thoughts, Lev.

  14. Lexington High School alumni says:

    Lev,

    Sorry to hear about your father.

    My sincerest condolences.

    I remembered him saying “I’ll tell him, when I called to leave a message for you.”

    When I was at Brandeis, a friend of mine, had your father as their professor. She thought your father was the most amazing teacher she ever had.

    — Mike

    Jeremy saw you on the Charlie Rose show.

    Congragulations on having a daughter… I didn’t know you did… I am sure you’ll be as good a father to her, as your dad must have been to you.

    PS – Maybe time magazine articles isn’t high culture, but from time to time, if i read Time in a library, I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles — ( note the — ) just as much as reading your essays in Mr. Murray’s 11th grade Philosophy Class — and you actually make NPR sound exciting when they have you on their.

    ( Your video trailer, with different people reading, was genius concept! Maybe you can just do entire book like that!! )

    — Mike

  15. LHS says:

    Dude —

    Sorry to hear about your father.

    My sincerest condolences.

    I remembered him saying “I’ll tell him, when I called to leave a message for you.”

    When I was at Brandeis, a friend of mine, had your father as their professor. She thought your father was the most amazing teacher she ever had.

    — Mike

    Jeremy saw you on the Charlie Rose show.

    Congragulations on having a daughter… I didn’t know you did… I am sure you’ll be as good a father to her, as your dad must have been to you.

    PS – Maybe time magazine articles isn’t high culture, but from time to time, if i read Time in a library, I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles — ( note the — ) just as much as reading your essays in Mr. Murray’s 11th grade Philosophy Class — and you actually make NPR sound exciting when they have you on their.

    ( Your video trailer, with different people reading, was genius concept! Maybe you can just do entire book like that!! )

    — Mike

  16. Mary says:

    Thanks for posting. The day I opened the NYT and saw the obituary I wanted to write something, as my dad died of the same cause fourteen years ago–one that none of us saw coming and was a long strange time going. Reagan’s trajectory tracked it pretty closely, though RR went on for a few more years. Commiserations–and admiration for your productivity through this increasingly familiar modern plague.

  17. Mary says:

    Oh, and the black page of Sterne–alas, poor Yorick!

  18. […] and after dealing with the aftermath of personal loss (in a way made all-the-more poignant by the recent death of Grossman’s father, poet and professor Allen Grossman) and returning to Brakebills, […]

  19. Victoria Kay says:

    Do you think there will be open auditions? I will play a tree, a blade of grass–I just need to be in this so badly! Regardless, so excited and happy for you that this finally happened-you deserve all the success and more.
    On another note–death is something I think about a lot. My deepest condolences on your Dad’s passing. I’m still traumatized by a death in my family that I witnessed. Death is not pleasant, and that’s an understatement.

  20. Leverus says:

    I know auditions are happening now. No idea how the casting call is being handled…

  21. […] and after dealing with the aftermath of personal loss (in a way made all-the-more poignant by the recent death of Grossman’s father, poet and professor Allen Grossman) and returning to Brakebills, […]

  22. Leda says:

    I went to Brandeis in the sixties and audited your father’s course on Yeats. There was a surfeit of brilliance at Brandeis, but your father tied for number one with Seth Benardete, a classics professor. I dropped out of the Yeats class when I realized I was too young to understand much of it; now I realize Allen Grossman wasn’t much older. I’m sorry he is gone. My sympathy to you and your family.

    Because he died, I am reading THE MAGICIANS at long last. Yin and yang. I hadn’t know you were his son.

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