Nota Bene

When we started to think about this imprint, the first order of business was to dream up a name. Not as easy as it might sound: my few ideas were either bad, or taken, or both. One of my early non-starters was “Nota Bene.” It wasn’t really apt—far more academic than our list, and it implies a familiarity with Latin that I certainly lack, and it also happened to be in use. I’d come to it for mostly sentimental reasons, as a nod to my father, Anthony Arthur, an English professor and writer. I grew up in a house full of readers and recyclers (my 10-year-old daughter’s new favorite sweater used to belong to my mother), which meant that the books on hand were often the books my father used as an undergraduate, a graduate student, and then as a teacher, and they were filled with his neat, careful notes, usually in the form of check marks, exclamation points, and the occasional, significant “NB.” As a student reading my dad’s battered copies of “The Great Gatsby” or “Jane Eyre” or “The Sound and the Fury,” I felt I had a slight advantage over my peers, the guiding hand of a man who had read and taught these books dozens of times, pointing out to me the passages and scenes that I should “note well” to better understand the book and the author’s intentions. Over the years, school long behind me, I’ve continued to read my father’s annotated books in their wonderfully unadorned old paperback editions, and I love seeing what caught his eye but might otherwise have escaped mine.

A note from "Lie Down in Darkness"

 All this comes to mind as we launch the imprint, and as I mourn my dad, who died last month. We wound up with a name that he liked just fine, since my first name was his idea (adapted from “King Lear”) and my last name is also his. There are many things I’ll miss now that he’s gone, but there is also much for which I’m grateful, and at the top of that long list is the fact that a childhood spent reading has led to a ridiculously satisfying career as an editor. And, of course, I still have those books, on whose pages live not only their authors and the characters they created, but also, tucked within the margins, my father, reminding me to read as he read, to live as he lived, and to note it well.

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