Those who follow publishing all know the story of John Grisham, who as an unknown author started out self-publishing a little book called A Time to Kill , driving around selling it out of the trunk of his car.
While most self-published authors don't see Grisham's kind of success, with a little persistence it can happen. Former Chicagoan John Bernard Ruane is getting a shot with his memoir Parish the Thought: An Inspirational Memoir of Growing up Catholic in the 1960s (Roswell Press, $19.99), which found its way into the book room right about the time I took over the job of Books Editor last year.
Anyone who grew up Catholic wlll relate to Ruane's stories of growing up in a Chicago parish, where he served as an altar boy and was schooled under the influence of nuns and priests in the 1960s. (One can't help recall John R. Powers' fictionalized memoirs about growing up Catholic in the '50s — The Last Catholic in America, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?)
Ruane, who now makes his home in Roswell Georgia, printed only 5,000 copies last summer. Most of the hardcovers have sold out and now Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, will publish the paperback edition this fall.
None other than our city's own archbishop, Francis Cardinal George blurbs the book on the back cover:
"John Bernard Ruane writes about a truly memorable parish, St. Bede's in the Archdiocese of Chicago. His witty but moving recall of his years growing up is a marvelous tribute to his mother and father and to the parish itself. Chicago priests and parishes have shaped literally millions of Catholics, and all of us now have reason to be grateful to John."