Garcia: An American Life: Outtakes, Afterthoughts and Other Cool Stuff
Hey BJ, what's this all about, anyway? Is this just your boring rejects, or what?
Here's the story. I originally finished writing Garcia: An American Life, in early December, 1997. As I was writing it, I was trying to keep it to a respectable length, knowing full well that Viking was not about to publish a 1,000-page book, which is what I probably would have written left to my own devices. There were a lot of topic areas I originally wanted to address in this book that I had to reject along the way for space reasons. Truthfully, I didn't have a clue about how long the manuscript I turned in was. It seemed lean and mean (as they say) to me; after all, I was still thinking about all the cool material I didn't get a chance to use.
For reasons we needn't go into, the book sat unread at Viking for nearly a year. Then, with a deadline looming for editing the manuscript so that it could be published in the spring of '99 (later pushed back to the summer of '99), I received a chilling phone call from Viking: The original projection of 640 pages, which would have required only minimal trimming by yours truly, had been downsized to 512 pages, requiring me to cut nearly 400 manuscript pages. (OK, it was triple spaced, but it's still about a fifth of the total book.) I griped, I whined, did the whole "how can you possibly touch these golden words?" primadonna number that they probably hear 50 times a year at every book company in the world.
So there I was, facing an intense deadline to slash my beloved manuscript to pieces while retaining the flow and integrity of the work. Oy vey! But I did it, grumbling and shedding invisible tears as anecdotes, explanations and entire topics fell to the proverbial cutting room floor.
What's on this website is about 95 percent of what I cut from the book, as well as some extra bits I threw in because cyberspace has no limits! In my own twisted rationalization, none of this is "rejected" material; it is simply material that has found a different home.
But it's so weird having all these little nuggets that don't really add up to anything outside of the context of the book.
I agree it's a little strange, and I know it's going to seem peculiar to many. But I wanted people to at least have the option of seeing this material. And frankly, I didn't want to have to explain, for example, why I didn't "bother" to discuss Garcia's sessions with Ornette Coleman. I did, but I cut it from the book proper. Now, there could certainly be quarrels about what I cut and what I left in. Again, the deletion of certain topics does not mean I think they're unimportant. But whole bunches of stuff had to go, and there were was a certain narrative flow I didn't want to disturb, as well as anecdotes that were inviolable.
So how do we use this website?
Hey, its the Worldwide Web; you can do whatever you want! I'm sure there will be many cyber surfers who will not buy my book but might be intrigued enough to check out some of the stories herein. They'll be confused by a lot of it; some of it is self-contained enough to work well outside the book. Maybe it will even spur a few to buy the book; who knows?
However, my humble suggestion to all you wonderful people who have plunked down your hard-earned money for my book is this: Read a chapter in the book, then come here and check out the additional material, while the chapter is still fresh in your mind. I understand that checking back and forth between a book and a website is going to be cumbersome, but with any luck the added detail will be its own reward.
But whatever works for you is how you should do it! If you have any tips I can pass on here, let me know and I'll pass along your idea! Have fun!