For the past ten years or so I have been involved in two writing projects. Both are biographies. One of course is the one I am writing about Samuel Johnson and to which most of the posts on this blog are dedicated. This September 18 marks the 311th anniversary of his birth. I have the full superstructure of the book worked out and I have written several chapters and long passages that are “complete” in the sense that they are not just notes or ideas thrown into place, but I hope to have to edit (and have an editor edit) the writing very little once I move to that stage. And I also have most of my research done and in place in the superstructure so that it’s ready for me to “write it.”
I’ve also been having some fun on the side (which is a bad thing to say if you are married, which I am not). It started with this cubist take on Johnson which I commissioned a few years ago (after Joshua Reynolds). More recently, I’ve created a line of greeting cards based on quotations from Johnson and supported with illustrations and paintings from several very talented and creative people. Take a look at Sam Johnson Cards.
But September is also a sad time for me, especially this September we are currently in, because of the subject of the other biography that has occupied so much of my time the last few years — one I co-wrote with Matt Balaker about standup comedian Greg Giraldo. The 29th will mark the tenth anniversary of his death from an accidental prescription drug overdose in a New Jersey hotel room. Matt and I have created a tribute page to mark the occasion (take a look at Greg Giraldo Remembered) and it’s been heartening to see how some people in the comedy world have been happy to support us. One professional illustrator gave us a design and didn’t charge us for it. Another comedian agreed to an interview. And various people contributed photos (have a look at the “Gallery” section).
Likely not many 18th-century scholars have heard of Giraldo, let alone seen him perform (or read a terrific biography about him!). For those who know his work though — I joke with my co-author Matt that he and I are now the top Giraldo scholars in the world — they know that he is one of the best standup comedians of all time. Not bad for a kid from Queens who also graduated from Harvard Law School.