Turning 40–and I’ve Got the Bookshelves to Prove It…

Jeff VanderMeer • July 7th, 2008 @ 4:30 am • Photos

I turn 40 today. No tears for me–forty seems like a good age to be: still young enough to learn new tricks, old enough to have experienced almost everything a writing career can throw at a person. I’m happy to be alive, alert, relatively sane, and generally upbeat about life. A writing life is both a privilege and at times a burden, but so far so good…

Below I’ve posted photos of the bookshelves in my office, which hold everything I’ve published or been published in or been on the publisher side of printing over the last 25 years. (This doesn’t include another few shelves of saddle-stapled mags and chapbooks and whatnot that’s currently being turned into bibliography by a certain Mark Wingenfeld. It also doesn’t include over one thousand web-only essays, book reviews, editorials, and interviews, as well as another two thousand plus blog entries.)

So, yeah, I’m going to celebrate today. I’m lucky, I think–much more good than bad. I’m 40, and I’ve got a wonderful wife (love ya, Ann–my co-conspirator on every creative project), creative, wonderful friends, a great family (Riley’s first time at the beach), and a slew of books that came out much closer to the vision in my head (and collaborators’ heads) than I ever had the right to expect. Not too much to complain about, to be honest, except three lazy cats who refuse to help out around the house.

And, finally: thanks to all of you for reading this blog. I’ve enjoyed the sense of community, making new friends, the controversy, the laughs, and even the sad times.

(Note: I had started this post before hearing about Thomas Disch’s death, and after that I contemplated just deleting it because it felt strange, and then decided to go ahead with it anyway because that felt strange, too. So, it’s an odd day–happy, celebrating, in the one context, and yet sad in another context.)

46 Responses to “Turning 40–and I’ve Got the Bookshelves to Prove It…”

  1. Luí­s Rodrigues says:

    Well, happy birthday, old man! Have a great time!

  2. Charles Tan says:

    Happy birthday!

  3. Jen says:

    Happy birthday :)

  4. Michael Phillips says:

    Happy birthday, Jeff! You’re living spectacularly, don’t feel bad to say so.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey–thanks! Not sure what I’m gonna do today. Mostly take it easy, which is a kind of privilege for a freelancer. The hardest thing for me to do since I turned freelance is learn to take a day off here and there.


  6. Sir Tessa says:

    Happy cake-eating day. : )

    There is cake, right?

  7. Andy Wolverton says:

    Happy Birthday, Jeff!

  8. Cat Sparks says:

    How dare you be three years younger than me! Humph.

    ps happy birthday old bean

  9. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    There will be cigars and red wine. Possibly cake.

    Cat–there is no way, me having been born an 80-year-old curmudgeon, that you would ever be older than me. Besides, you look 30, tops.


  10. Dark Wolf says:

    Happy Birthday and may all your wishes come true :)

  11. John Coulthart says:

    Happy birthday!

  12. Steve Buchheit says:

    Happy happy, Jeff. Forty isn’t bad. You’ve already got the humor and irony function working well. That’s what trips up most people this age. Here’s to another productive 40 years to go. Being 40 isn’t that much different that 39, although you can now officially yell at the kids to get off your lawn.

    Oh, and the AARP starts recruiting you.

  13. Jessica Reisman says:

    Happy Birthday Jeff! Glad to be on the planet with you, you add to its joy. Have a super sweet year in the life of you.

  14. Jason Erik Lundberg says:

    Happy 40th, d00d! And thank you for the book pr0n; that is mighty damn impressive.

  15. Will Hindmarch says:

    Cheers and happy birthday!

  16. Brendan says:

    Happy 40th!

  17. Bryan Alexander says:

    Happy birthday!

  18. Alex D M says:

    Happy birthday!

  19. Pete Tzinski says:

    I think for birthdays, you’re required to go to a restaurant where they sing songs loudly at you, to the embarassment of everyone gathered. I recommend doing that.

    Happy 40th, sir!

  20. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey, Jessica–it’s probably no surprise the feeling is mutual. I have not forgotten the cool diorama/artifacts, either, and how they might fit into a project.

    Pete–eeeeeeeee! I hate audience participation. LOL.

    Thanks mucho.


    PS Will-hope you got the email about the gig.

  21. Matt Bell says:

    Happy birthday, Jeff!

  22. ed says:

    Happy birthday, good sir!

  23. Matt Staggs says:

    Happy birthday, Jeff! Take the day off, relax! You’ve earned it. And look out for the wandering horde of squid who will attempt at some point to take you to their homeland. I hear they do that at 40.

  24. J. T. Glover says:

    Happy Birthday, Jeff! That’s some shelves full of reasons to be proud, even if you’d never done anything else. Hope the next 40 go as well.

  25. David de Beer says:

    Happy birthday, Jeff.

  26. Rick Klaw says:

    Happy Birthday, you wipper-snapper!

  27. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Thanks, guys. I should note that Ann’s largely responsible for all of this stuff. She’s my creative partner in all things. We’ve known each other for over 20 years now.


  28. Corey Redekop says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but happy birthday. I’ll hit the same milestone in a year or so, and have not NEARLY the same amount to show for it, so don’t you dare complain.

  29. Larry says:

    Happy 40th, Jeff! Don’t know about you, but I believe July birthdays are the best – warm, long sunlight, endless possibilities of going places without worrying about cold weather…enjoy it all! :D

  30. Kelley says:

    Happy birthday, Jeff! For my money, the 40’s are the absolute flat-out best so far, although I think the 50’s will be even more amazing…. at least that’s the plan (grin). Enjoy the hell out of all of it.

  31. Cat Rambo says:

    Happy birthday!! The forties have been pretty good to me so far.

  32. JesseFord says:

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Vandermeer!

    Looking at those shelves; that has to make you feel pretty damn good.

  33. Grant Stone says:

    Happy birthday sir!
    I made you a cake… but I ated it.

  34. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I’m glad you ate it! It’d spoil by the time it got here, and I’m trying to be good re desserts.

    Thanks, all.


  35. Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo says:

    Better later than never – CONGRATS Jeff! 40 is not at all a bad place to be.
    Happily noticed some translations of mine on the shelves. Sincerely hoping there’ll be more of those,



  36. Timblynod says:

    Happy Birthday!! Here’s to another 40 years (and double the shelves!).

  37. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Johanna–me too! And thank so much for the best wishes.

    Timblynod–I never will remember your real name at this rate. With the rate of projects, it’s going to triple by 2010…Sigh.


  38. Fábio says:

    Happy Birthday, Jeff!

  39. Dan Read says:

    Fuckin’ A! Happy Birthday, and all the best in your travels, and of course with the novel.

  40. Jesse says:

    Times Pi, sir. Which would be (rounding up, of course) Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Ha!

  41. R. Schuyler Devin says:

    Sorry my response is so late in the evening, but felicitous natal-day to you Maestro Vandermeer; You don’t look a day over 35.

  42. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Thanks, guys. Just back from a great meal and a wonderful red wine.

  43. Seth Merlo says:

    Happy birthday! Sounds like you’ve had a great day :o)

  44. michael says:

    happy birthday, jeff! long life, many books, a lot of money… big hugs from me and ona. and kisses to ann.

  45. GabrielM says:

    Happy belated birthday, Jeff. I’ll be turning 40 myself on the 29th of this month.

  46. Asley Sandhoff says:

    At times you arrive across a publish that just would seem to create sense. Many thanks a good deal

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