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Obama fundraiser brings deluge of books from Stephen King and more

September 11, 2008 | 12:58 pm

Ayeletwaldman0911

Ayelet Waldman is opening boxes. "My mail carrier is having heart palpitations," she says. A week ago, Waldman sent a casual e-mail –- it "had all these typos" –- to just five friends, asking them to donate books to benefit Barack Obama. To her surprise, "the thing goes completely viral. All of a sudden I start getting this stuff in the mail."

In seven days, hundreds of books have arrived. First editions from Stephen King and Billy Collins. Books from Anne Tyler, Tobias Wolff, Lisa See, Jodi Picoult, Jonathan Lethem, Dave Eggers. From Jamie Lee Curtis and David Leavitt and Judy Blume. Greil Marcus' donated books each arrived with a limited-edition companion CD. While we talk on the phone, she opens a package with three books from Erica Jong and a note from the author.

The fundraiser that started it all will be hosted by restaurateur Alice Waters in a private San Francisco Bay Area home; the books will be part of an auction there. But the overwhelming response means that they'll be available at other Obama fundraisers too. One in the planning stages includes appearances by Michael Chabon (Waldman's husband), Anne Lamott, Tobias Wolff and Isabel Allende. Things are happening so fast, though, that details for the events, which will be open to the public, are not yet available.

Waldman has been so focused on her efforts to support Obama -- this is "too important an election," she says -- that her own work has gotten a bit buried. Pulling more packages out from a stack, she discovered the edits to her memoir in progress, "Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace." 

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Ayelet Waldman photographed in 2003 by Randi Lynn Beach / For The Times

If you are organizing a book-focused fundraiser for John McCain, Jacket Copy would of course like to learn about it. Just e-mail jacketcopyla (at) gmail.com

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