posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken
About 20 years ago when my first book was published by an eminently respectable publisher, I received a form inviting my inclusion in Contemporary Authors (CA). I am a librarian, so I know that CA is a respected biographical source used often by students and other researchers.
I had a flash fantasy of professors wearing elbow-patched jackets, drawing on their pipes and helping their seminars limn the depths of Children With Cancer: A Reference Guide for Parents for its deeper meaning. Somehow I never got around to filling out the CA form, and they never asked me again despite a number of other books that have appeared in my name, albeit from lesser publishers than Oxford University Press.
About the same time I received an invitation to appear in Who's Who in American Writers and Poets (or WWAWP, as I call it.) It sounds pretty impressive, but I had no illusions that my articles and commentaries had caught the attention of anyone beyond my immediate family and closest neighbors. I was doubtful that readers everywhere were clamoring to find more information about the author of a bit of light verse in the Wall Street Journal or a commentary in Working Mother.
Still, I did fill out that form and (surprise, surprise!) I was accepted for inclusion. I was also given several opportunities to purchase the resulting volumes for my own library. I didn't. After a couple of editions, they gave up on me and dropped me from their WWAWP roster--despite my having published even more books and having won a national award or two. Suffice it to say, WWAWP copies are not all that easy to turn up. Nor did inclusion bring me fame, fortune, and bestseller contracts. I did not give up my day job.
I'm not sure why, but last year I received an invitation to apply for inclusion in Who's Who in America. I checked the envelope and the cover letter several times. I know of quite a few "sister directories" to the venerable Who's Who in America, like Who's Who in the East, ...American Women and so forth, all issued by Marquis Who's Who. Not a pale imitation, this letter: it was a missive from the Big One.
I wondered what they were thinking, but I also filled out the form and sent it back. Their letter suggested that the directory was hoping to include more local-type persons of note rather than only those in People Weekly. You don't get much more local than (Myra) Jeanne Munn Bracken.
I forgot about it and went about my decidedly local business, until I received a certified letter from Marquis Who's Who. Against all odds, I had indeed been selected to appear in the 2007 edition, the real, the original Who's Who in America. The folks at WWA assured me that only 1/30 of 1% of the population of the US is included in WWA, and they congratulated me on my accomplishments. They included my abbreviation-filled biography, which was published in print so small that the magnifying glass I keep on my desk will come in real handy when I drag friends and colleagues to WWA to exclaim about this signal honor.
I'd like to think that people all over the country are trying desperately to find out all about (Myra) Jeanne Munn Bracken (besides the ones trying to steal my identify). What will really happen, I'm sure, will be some hapless librarian looking up Eddie Bracken or Ray Bradbury and, her finger moving slowly down the columns of tiny print, as she comes to (Myra) Jeanne Munn Bracken, she will ask, bewildered, "Who's whoooooo?"