Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Advance Man

When he blew into the town on a warm summer breeze, the theaters had already closed for the season. It was too hot to be inside. There was little else to do; those who could play played, everyone else worked. His job was a little of both.

He was the advance man. He arrived with a con man’s smile, pockets full of cash and promises. He prepared the town and every town before and after. The circus was coming and they had to be ready for it.

 The job meant to get as much for as little as possible. He rented the field where the circus could set up. He got the posters and broadsides printed and hung. He greased the right palms with the right grease. He promoted, got tickets sold and when the circus arrived, he moved to the next town and did it all over again.

While the names and times and technologies changed, the essential job of the advance man hasn’t changed. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to tell you about a book I’ve enjoyed and you might enjoy also.

The Advance Man by Jamie MacVicar

It is the story of a young marketing guy who falls into the world of the circus as an advance man for Ringling Brothers’ Circus in the 1970s. It is a true personal story with some surprising twists and turns. It is just those surprises, a rare experience for a book to surprise me, that makes it hard for me to say anything else than, “Buy this book!”

There a couple of things; I went into the book because expecting some nuts and bolts type marketing information. There is some of that. Marketing school can teach you everything about the work, but not about your life in marketing. That’s what this book is ultimately about. I feel like I met someone I’d like to know further. I expect Jamie has some more great stories to tell over a couple of beers.

As a performer who has spent nights awake wondering if anyone will buy tickets for my show, I was on the edge of my seat during some passages. If you are at all interested on the behind the scenes of the circus there is much of it to enjoy in this book. At times, I thought I was reading a novel, but it was all real.

My best advice is, don’t just believe me, head over to amazon.com, read all about the book, and pick up a copy for yourself. And after you read it, spread the word. The world needs more good books to read.

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