2016 MAYOR'S BOOK CLUB:
READER'S GUIDE TO 'I'M DYIN' HERE'
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has announced the launch of an annual, citywide book club — aptly named the Mayor's Book Club — and chose I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper by Tim Grobaty as the first read.
“I just loved I’m Dyin’ Here," Garcia said, calling it "an honest and extremely funny look at life in the newspaper business and here in Long Beach."
Where to buy
• The Brass Lamp Book Bar
• MADE in Long Beach
• Barnes & Noble
• Historical Society of Long Beach
• Gatsby Books
• Coast Modern
OCT. 26: Swing by the Brass Lamp Book Bar & Lounge, 245 Promenade North, from 6-8 PM and have a drink with the author. Better yet, bring your entire book club. Sponsored by the Brass Lamp and Open Books.
DEC. 11: "All the Presidents Men" is the Academy Award-winning film about Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), two green reporters and rivals who uncover the Watergate scandal while working for the Washington Post. The film aired in 1976, the same year Grobaty began work at the Press-Telegram, and the film plays small but important walk-on role in I'm Dyin' Here. The screening will be preceded by a panel discussion on the current state of journalism. Sponsored by the Art Theater.
BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS
- For many people in Long Beach, and around the country, reading Tim's column is an essential part of their day. Are you among them? What do you like (or dislike) about those columns?
- What was your reaction to Tim's descriptions of his personal life while growing up? Were you surprised that such a funny columnist could emerge from a childhood so often plagued with problems?
- After you have finished the book, did you have any favorite parts? Were you more interested in Tim's stories about his life in the newspaper business, or in the sections about his family life — first, as a child and then as a father, husband (and dog owner)?
- Tim interspersed some of his 40 years of newspaper columns into the text. Why do you think he did that? What did that bring to the story he told?
- Tim made the decision not to leave the Press-Telegram, or the city of Long Beach, even when so many of his colleagues left and he was receiving pressure to move on as well. Why did he do that? Do you think he made the right decision?
- Do you agree with Tim that print newspapers are dying? If so, do you think Americans will be less well-informed without them, or are television, radio and Internet news sources providing adequate information? Which of those do you trust or rely on the most?
- With Internet bloggers playing a bigger and bigger role in the distribution of information, will journalism schools dwindle in the future? What would be the value in journalism degrees for bloggers?
- What would your advice be to a young person interested in studying journalism in college?
(Submit your own suggested questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Long Beach Press-Telegram writer Tim Grobaty was promoted to columnist at his newspaper back when it was still a glamorous and coveted job. In I’m Dyin’ Here: A Life in the Paper, the author means two things: He’ll likely die at the job (unless he lives too long) that he’s spent nearly four decades doing, and at the same time his profession, too, is seeing its last days.
Weaving together personal history and a selection of columns written over the course of his career, Grobaty offers readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a dying breed: the local columnist. With everyday life — fatherhood, holidays, suburbia, and random encounters with animals — serving as fodder for his column, Grobaty reveals his sources of motivation and vulnerability, all the while struggling to maintain relevance in a rapidly changing industry.
As the country forges its way through fundamental changes in how people consume journalism— increasingly based on complex metrics and instantaneous gratification and less upon reverence for the written word — Grobaty's book makes us long for the lost art of anticipation and, more significantly, invites reflection upon how we relate to one another and the world around us.
The award-winning, offbeat and always-funny voice of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, columnist Tim Grobaty began work at the PT when he was still in college and the it was still a "destination paper" for talented journalists all over the country.
Grobaty rose through the ranks of copy boy, news reporter, features writer, music reviewer and, finally, the much-hailed position of columnist. He has won numerous awards, including being named the Best Columnist in the Western United States by Best in the West, and is the author of Growing Up in Long Beach: Boomer Memories from Autoettes to Los Altos Drive-In; Location Filming in Long Beach; and Long Beach Chronicles: From Pioneers to the 1933 Earthquake. In I'm Dyin' Here, his most autobiographical book to date, he tells the inside story of a life lived in newspapers and offers his reflections on the end — both as a person and a newspaperman. A native of Long Beach, Grobaty lives (he still lives!) in the city with his wife, daughter, and two pups. You can track him down at email@example.com or on Twitter @grobaty.
REVIEWS + ENDORSEMENTS
"Tim Grobaty takes on a career's worth of trying to make sense of news papering in stories that are wry, honest, and mostly true from the big small town of Long Beach, California. The local weirdness is therein abundance, but just to show that all places, however ordinary, will surprise and mystify. The tragedies of an ordinary life are there too,with whatever redemptive power they can have. There is a lot to lament about the folding of newspapers like the one Grobaty still writes for.The worst is the loss one day of funny, humane, and unpretentious voices like his."
— D.J. Waldie, author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir
"A humorous love letter to a dying vocation."
— Kirkus Reviews
"A truly wonderful book. Both the fascinating history of a man, and the radical shifts in the newspaper world. It's beautifully written--by turns both humorous and equally moving. I wish I could give it a higher rating [than five stars]."
— Rob Roberge, author of Liar
"Tim Grobaty, one of these great city-side columnists [has written] a book-length meditation on the current 'optimistic' state of the print journalism industry in which he works."
— David Kipen, founder of Libros Schmibros and book critic for KPCC's Take Two
"Over the years, a newspaper columnist develops a very special relationship with their readers: They become a favorite neighbor, a good friend,maybe even a family member. They don't deliver news; they tell us about life. Long Beach is lucky to have had Tim Grobaty in that role all these many years. He is the Bard of Big Town."
— Russ Parsons, author of How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table
"One wanders through the passages of Grobaty's book like an accidental tourist in the town you thought you already knew. Often, discovering things a self-preservationist type wouldn't even think to investigate without a 'cop across the street' by his side."
— Thomas Wasper, author of Famous Killers for Early Learners
"Read this book! It will make you laugh; it will tear you up; it will make you think; and it will cause you to consider your existence. Grobaty's book, by itself, illustrates why we can't lose print journalism. His slices of life lead you to ponder and appreciate the whole pie."
— Bob Foster, former mayor of Long Beach.