Babich's Book

Regular readers of our "Postmarks" section of the paper -- the letters to the editor -- are familiar with Amy Babich, who routinely and earnestly writes us and our readers about transportation issues, in particular advocating the use of bicycles and their efficacy as a mode of transportation. Lately, though, Babich has been doing much more than writing letters to the editor; she's been writing a book called The Age of the Bicycle: A Novel, from a small press called Zinka Press. But you won't find Babich's name on the cover, because to all appearances The Age of the Bicycle: A Novel is written by Miriam Webster.

Babich says "it's no secret" that she is Miriam Webster, but it was news to me. Several clues revealed the identity of the book's author: The front cover has an illustration of a recumbent bicycle with two orange flags sticking out of it, the back cover's description of the plot mentions something about a "drought [that] plagued Central Texas because the local rain goddess had run off with a handsome mortal on a stolen red tandem," and the first paragraph mentions Lucretius, the Roman poet. (One letter Ms. Babich had written us mentioned her studies in Latin and math.)

The press release that arrived with the book states that "enclosed is a copy of The Age of the Bicycle: A Novel by Miriam Webster, which we believe will be of especial interest to readers of your publication." Most press releases say something silly like that, but in this case, it was a uniquely prescient remark. I was curious what a small press in Pennsylvania is doing publishing a book about Central Texas, so I called Brook Landor, the publisher, and asked her if Miriam Webster was a pseudonym and she said, "Yes, but that's all I'm going to say." She did acknowledge that she was "acquainted" with Babich before deciding to publish her books.

The Age of the Bicycle is a very direct book, i.e., it's all about bikes; the characters have names like Lola, Arzella, and Fortescue Lymph. We're honored to make an appearance in the book as the Weekly Cascade. I'm sure many readers tire easily of Babich's letters, and so those individuals probably won't want to buy her latest book, but you have to admire the "drive" of someone who works so hard to make their viewpoint known.


Local author and nurse Diane Barnet will sign her book What You Need to Know About Hospitals, which she wrote to demistify how hospitals work and to empower the average consumer, at Book People Wednesday, January 20 at 7pm... Same date at 7:30pm at Borders, Michael Connelly discusses Angels Flight: A Harry Bosch Novel.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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More Postscripts
The last time we heard about Karla Faye Tucker, she was being executed; now, almost four years later, there's a new novel about her. Or about someone very like her. And Beverly Lowry's classic Crossed Over, a memoir about getting to know Karla Faye Tucker, gets a reissue.

Clay Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

Not one day back from vacation and the growing list of noble souls who need to be congratulated is making Books Editor Clay Smith uneasy.

Clay Smith, Jan. 11, 2002


Readings, Signings, Clay Smith

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