I'll come right out and say it: I'd like for you to buy my new book. Not "you," as in some general, indistinct Isthmus reader, but you, the person reading this. I'd also like for you to read the book, be moved by it, and recommend it to everyone you know. But let's take this one step at a time.
The book is called Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice. It's about a legally blind Madison woman named Patty who was raped by an armed intruder, disbelieved by police and pressured to recant, then charged with a crime for insisting she was raped. And it's about how Patty fought for nearly seven years against the police and the city of Madison to be believed.
Some readers of Isthmus are familiar with this case, and think they know this story. They don't. The prior published record of Patty's ordeal barely scratches the surface. Conveying the severity of the adversity to which she was subjected and the full measure of her courage under duress is something that would take, well, a book.
There are a host of reasons, great and small, that you ought to consider buying this book. I'll get to some of the great ones in a moment. The smallest of the small reasons is this: Because I'm asking you to.
For 20 years, I have given a huge part of my life to Isthmus. I have been there for hundreds of people who had an issue to raise or story to tell. I've interviewed thousands of people and published more than a million words. (No, I can't tell you which word was my millionth; I like to think it was "purportedly," one of my faves.) I've worked with countless other writers, from students to old pros, to help craft stories that grace our pages.
And, so far as I can remember, I've never asked you for anything in return. Until now.
This isn't my first book, but it's far and away the most important thing I've ever written, or likely will ever write. It represents four decades of writing experience and five years of actual work. But none of that matters if it does not find an audience.
Okay, you say, I'll read your damn book. But why should I have to buy it? Isn't that what libraries are for?
Yes, but sales are what drive the publishing world. No one expects to make a fortune ' given expenses incurred I'll not likely break even ' but I do hope sales are healthy enough to reward the University of Wisconsin Press for the risk it took in bringing this book into being.
The UW Press, alone among the prospective publishers I approached, cared that this is a good and an important book. The others thought only about money, and determined that it would not make enough. The small press run mandates a higher cover price ($29.95), but I can assure you that however much goes back to the Press is going to a good cause. (It's also a way to support your favorite bookstore. Or you can get it from Amazon.com for less than $20 and through Isthmus, 101 King St., which has some copies for $25.)
But the main reason I'm pushing this book is that I see it as an instrument of justice for Patty. It shows how a vulnerable and frightened woman displayed great bravery, ignoring her lawyers and others who urged her to give up, and who was made to pay a terrible price. I wrote it because I could not stand to let the city of Madison get away with what it did to her, as it has thus far.
Some of what happened to Patty owes to well-meaning people who made tragic mistakes. But some of her victimization was purposeful and deliberate, the brute force of bullies turned full bore against a blind rape victim.
Next week, Isthmus will run an abbreviated account of one small part of Patty's long struggle. It's an episode in which the citizens of Madison are deeply implicated, because it was done on their behalf, in their name.
Cry Rape documents lies told by Madison police officers, some under oath, none of which led to discipline. Indeed, several whoppers were crafted by former Madison Police Chief Richard Williams, as part of the dismal tone he set for the department. It also recounts how Madison police testified as defense witnesses for Patty's rapist and showed up in court to sit on his side of the aisle.
In fact, the city and its agents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to deny justice to Patty, purportedly to protect the city's interests. Whether or not you buy this book, your money has already gone to this cause.
There are several planned events, including a fund-raiser on Friday, Sept. 29, at A Room of One's Own. A $40 advance ticket now available from Room or Isthmus includes the book, with the bookstore generously donating all proceeds to the Rape Crisis Center ' a group that stood by Patty during the thick of her ordeal ' and UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence. And Isthmus is sponsoring a reading on Oct. 5 at University Book Store-Hilldale. (Other events, as well as more info on the book and articles and documents on the case, can be found at www.cryrapebook.com.)
A Room of One's Own has pledged to give 10% of the proceeds from its first six months of sales to Patty, who has never received a penny of compensation from the city. And I'm giving her half of all royalties from the first year of sales.
I do hope the people in Madison will take a special interest in this book and the story it tells. And I hope people who read the book, and like it, will help spread the word. Most of all, I hope Patty's heroism will not go unnoticed, or unheralded, any longer.