Saturday, August 08, 2009

Kings of Madison Avenue

It is my pleasure to devote today's blog post to one of my favourite books I've read in the past year. And, for the purpose of full disclosure, I'll admit up front that I was the acquiring and developing editor on this book. But that doesn't mean I can't sing its praises to the highest. (After all, the royalties go to the author, not me.)

Kings of Madison Avenue is the unofficial companion guide to Mad Men. If you're a fan of the show, you will love this book. With chapters on the civil rights movement, the second wave of feminism, advertising campaigns of the early 1960s, key figures of the era, and many more, author Jesse McLean has gone beyond the episodes to give the reader the context of the 1960s. He also includes chapters on books and movies that are referenced in the episodes, such as The Apartment or Meditations in an Emergency.

I still remember getting this book proposal... Jesse wrote it up like he was pitching me an ad campaign, and the cover letter was complete with a ring where he'd set his whisky glass and the corner was burnt off, where he'd accidentally dropped his cigarette ash. It made me laugh out loud, and he's been making me laugh ever since. The writing in this book is sharp and witty, and I loved working on it. Throughout my career as an editor, there are different types of authors I've worked with -- ones who I assume I'll never work with again, either because they were very difficult throughout the process or for some reason they just decided they didn't like me (thankfully this situation is rare), writers who have a lot of talent in the one subject area they've written about, and who I enjoy working with but I'm not sure I see another book in them, and those who I love working with from the get-go and can't wait to work with again. Jesse happily falls into that third category. From the moment he walked into the office and we started up an hour-long conversation about television, I knew we'd get along just fine.

This book should be in stores very soon, if it isn't already, and you can order it on Amazon here. Or, if you live in the Toronto area, please come on out to the launch this Wednesday, August 12, at McNally Robinson, located at the Shops at Don Mills, at the corner of Lawrence and Don Mills Road. The launch is at 7pm, and Jesse will be on hand to sign books, and will be interviewed on stage by Globe and Mail TV columnist John Doyle. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it (and I'm shattered about this) because I'm on vacation. I told our publicists that there was one week in the entire summer that I couldn't make it... and then the bookstore insisted on booking it in that week. Wah. The reason? Mad Men starts up again next Sunday. (WHEEEE!!!)

Please check out this book. You will NOT be disappointed. And check out the author's entertaining blog, Kings of Madison Avenue, here.


Hunter said...

I'm so glad you posted this! My mom is a HUGE Mad Men fan. She's obsessed with it almost as much as I am with Lost...almost. I just ordered it as a birthday present for her, which I know she'll love.

Blam said...

Great cover... I look forward to checking out the insides, too, and hope it does very well for ECW. Happy vacation!

Jo said...

kool blog
95 followers woow

fb said...

funny, i'm frantically rewatching seasons 1 and 2 right now in order to be all caught up for next sunday! :)

congrats to jesse, this book looks AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

I want that book and thanks for the heads up on the new season.

humanebean said...

Looks like a wonderful book - will have to pick one up as soon as humanly possible. I am going to try and see if I can catch his interview on Here & Now tomorrow to learn more

Anonymous said...

Having worked as a copywriter in a Madison Avenue advertising/public relations agency in the 60's, I can really relate to the show, and it is soooo authentic--the smoking, three-martini lunches, carrying on, smirking behind the backs of females, whether they were attractive or not-so-much, the way women were expected to dress, the racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
The Season 1 episodes about the jiggling machine that presumably produced weight loss, but actually produced orgasms, was based on a real product called the Relax-a-cisor that I also tried at home and wrote pr about. (Luckily, I had a husband to fill in when the machine was turned off!) When I saw those episodes, I was hysterical. It's too bad my boss (who was actually a really good guy and treated his female staff wonderfully--very unusual for that time) had passed away. But I did have a great conversation with his wife about it, and she remembered the product. I even turned her on to the show.
I'll probably buy the book, Nikki, and I'm so glad you are writing about the show.
By the way, I've been following the Lost blog for two years, and maybe Season 6 will be the time I finally weigh in with my own theories.

I found the best Asbestos Lawyer Orange TX said...

This book is great! I bought it initially thinking it would be a book to sit and read but in fact, it is a great episode companion. Read it before you watch the old episode and check back later to find what you missed. The cultural references are so helpful and he really has a great eye for detail.