Book is a Success Despite West Orange's 150th Celebration
on the Wrong Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) — July 31, 2013 — West Orange, New Jersey,
has always been a town unappreciative of its history and has almost
compulsively fictionalized it even to the point of celebrating its
founding on the wrong year. All of that has been a continual source
of embarrassment and annoyance to lifelong resident John Dandola,
the author, screenwriter, and playwright whose family roots in
West Orange predate the Revolutionary War and whose mystery
novels are set in town during the 1940's. In West Orange: A Concise
and Accurate History, Dandola reveals the truth—warts and all—
and makes it a very interesting and very entertaining read. The initial
print-run of the book sold out due to pre-publication sales but a
second printing has just been completed.
Jeanne Wilcox of the Quincannon Publishing Group explains,
"Part of the trick with successful publishing is to guesstimate the
appropriate size of a print-run. We knew that the town was stuck
with hundreds if not thousands of booklets from their celebration
last year. Of course, those booklets were nothing more than a rehash
of articles which had already been reprinted at least three times before in the local newspaper—that is not only a waste of both materials and money but unfair to both readers and advertisers. What we have to offer is a real book written by a professional author and published by a professional company. People understand that we are supplying superior content. As a result there were so many responses to the initial announcement, we had to keep pushing back the printing date to accommodate the ever-increasing number of orders. In the end, we just wound up breaking it into two print-runs—and at that, the second printing is on its way to selling out."
"We miscalculated about how many residents really cared," adds John Dandola. "This is so very satisfying on a number of levels. Behind-the-scenes, people working in town government contact me all the time when they suspect that facts supplied to them by the 'official' town historian are inaccurate. But when I repeatedly warned the town officials that they were celebrating the anniversary on the wrong year, they paid no attention. Just as I've told them that the official town web site has the wrong year for the founding of the police department—off by ten years—yet they've never made the correction. At some point, you have to surmise that the politicians just enjoy having egg on their faces because they have such a willful disdain for expertise."
The town's use of an erroneous anniversary date goes back to 1937 and the truth behind it is stranger than can be imagined. In his book, Dandola goes into great detail as to the how's and why's; all of which speaks volumes about the West Orange mindset both past and present. But it makes one wonder why the author hasn't been heeded when not doing so is to the town's own detriment.
"In West Orange, everything boils down to politics," Dandola explains. "My West Orange novels have gone international—they've even been optioned for movies—but in town, I'm shunned because I won't play political patty-cake. It's no secret that I don't like politicians and I'm entirely justified because West Orange politicians have been stealing my art and my writing since I was a kid. It's what people in power do and they usually get away with it because starving artists can't afford to take them on. But I'm the starving artist who became successful and I refused to tolerate the thefts any longer because it impacts how I earn a living. They were stunned when my attorneys went after them. It's been downhill ever since."
The town politicians not only celebrated West Orange's 150th anniversary a year early but their appointed "official" town historian completely missed out on reporting the actual 150th anniversary of the town's creation by the state legislature (March 14, 1863) and the actual 150th anniversary of the very first town meeting (April 10, 1863) in his weekly local newspaper column.
"It's absolutely unforgivable to have forgotten those two dates!"* Dandola states emphatically. "But then again, there's a vast difference between a real historian who knows how to interpret research and a politically-appointed historian who's little more than a postcard collector."
Unfortunately, that's how West Orange has always conducted itself and the only constant political concern about the town's history has always been to make sure that the facts are sanitized. Dandola ran up against that last point when he undertook the centennial album for the West Orange Fire Department.
"It's a very controlling environment," he says. "Both the police and fire departments were each founded after two different scandals but, more than a century later, the politicians still make sure neither scandal is ever mentioned. It's that kind of nonsense that's so exasperating. In the end, it all worked out in my favor. I wrote this latest history book for the town as an entity because the town as an entity is part of my own personal heritage and I did it without the usual political interference. No one seems to comprehend that something can actually be undertaken without a political motive—which is exactly the whole problem in West Orange nowadays. What's more, I have no expectation that words of thanks will ever be forthcoming but at least the correct facts are finally in print. I also thought that it was important to keep the second half of the book—the detailed timeline section—easy for children to read so that future generations don't continue to make the same mistakes."
West Orange: A Concise and Accurate History is published by the Quincannon Publishing Group
(162 pages, $15.95) and is only available through the publisher's web site (contact them at Sales@QuincannonGroup.com). It will not be issued as an e-book due to the problem of security; digitalizing anything makes copying all the more easy therefore increasing potential theft and piracy. Copies will not be made available to the West Orange Public Library since much of the plagiarism of Mr. Dandola's work has been traced there and they've done nothing to stop it.
Book sales will benefit upgrades which are planned for Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in West Orange. That parish celebrates its centennial next year.
John Dandola is a member of the Writers Guild of America for his screenplays; the Dramatists Guild of America for his stage plays; and the Mystery Writers of America for his novels. He actually solved the town's 1883 "unsolved" murder in one of those mystery novels but, of course, the politicians squelched all local mention of it.
# # #
Copyright © 2013 by The Quincannon Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
West Orange: A Concise and Accurate History
Already in a Second Printing
Already in a second printing to keep up with sales.
* March 14, 2013: The actual 150th Anniversary of the creation of West Orange. The local history column gave it no mention but instead re-ran the biography of a local colonial girl for the umpteenth time.
April 10, 2013: The actual 150th Anniversary of the first West Orange town meeting. The local history column gave it no mention but instead ran an article spotlighting the 70th wedding anniversary of a local couple and misspelled their name throughout.