The readings last week started in MA at Brookline Booksmith. I’d spoken with someone from The Boston Globe (an intern? she sounded about twelve years old) the week before, provided her with enough material for a full write-up, and then, Tuesday morning, The Boston Globe published a short piece that sent my audience to the Brattle Theatre (about an hour away from the bookstore, given the traffic that day). So not a good start. Genie, the manager at the bookstore, was taken aback by the small audience (eleven people showed up) and wanted to delay until I mentioned Boston Globe’s misdirection. Despite, or perhaps because it was, a small audience, the q&a was lively. Dr. Luke Piretti, my favorite sports therapist/chiropracter who gave up the Lakeville, CT practice to move to the Boston area, was there! And Paige Gough, fellow NYU graduate CW student and friend, whom I haven’t seen in years, came. We (also her friend Elizabeth) had dinner at the local Thai place (her treat!) and talked horses all evening. Which was fun. Also fun: Judy Bolton-Fasman, who reviewed two of my earlier novels, picked me up at the station (our first non-virtual meeting) and we chatted through traffic all the way to Brookline, then walked to the bookstore together. Fashion: Big White Shirt, Jbrand skinnies, camo scarf, (it was colder in Boston) and my workhorse jacket: A boyfriend-style pin-stripe I’ve had for about ten years.
On the morning Acela train from South Station to NYC, announcements about heightened security. Bomb-sniffing dogs were walked past waiting passengers in line and all luggage had to be tagged. Got into Penn Station about 1:15, home by two, to walk Emma. Then Stephanie Grant (author of Map of Ireland) arrived, having flown in from Durham, NC, and we ordered California rolls and Pad Thai, caught up some and hurried to shower and dress.
For the Barnes&Noble reading, my local bookstore in NYC—Upper West Siders stopped me to report seeing my face in the windows–I expected and got a wonderful audience. Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children, introduced. Beautifully. And the q&a was very good, with some debate about the differences between contemporary and earlier American opportunities to BECOME. The party at Inez Bon’s newly-opened wine bar VYNE followed. The place is gorgeous and intimate, and the moderately-priced wines it’s noted for, the cold white Veltliner especially, were delicious. Another late night.
Stephanie and I were on the train to Springfield, MA, for the Odyssey Books reading by 11:30 the next morning. Traveling with Stephanie has got to be the most fun way to do a book tour! We chatted, read, wrote, chatted. I checked in at the Sheraton, then we had to get on the road again, with a stop at WNEC, where I teach, to pick up final papers. We arrived in time to say hi to everyone at the English Major Social. I snacked on some chicken tenders and then we were on the road again, north to South Hadley. We had just enough time to see Mt. Holyoke’s awesome library—a fabulous cathedral to scholarship—and the amazing equestrian center. Then the reading. Stephanie introduced. Beautifully. Personally. And revealed a bit about what she’d heard about me (from Mona Simpson, with whom we both studied at NYU) before she’d ever met me. Some of my former students were there; also a reader who’d read my work, including the more difficult Seventh Beggar. Odyssey Books has a loyal first-edition book club (this place is amazing: customers keep a running tab and pay at end of every month) and had pre-sold a good number of copies of American Taliban, so I signed books.
Stephanie, Janet Bowdan, poet and Professor at WNEC, and I had a delicious dinner and good conversation at Food 101.
I was up at 4:30 to make the 6 a.m. train back to Boston for an appearance on Fox News “God Talk” segment. The train ran late, the first cab we (my fine publicist Meghan Cassidy and I) flagged was hit by a truck before we could get in, but everyone, including the driver who could have been really hurt, was fine. We flagged another cab, got to the studio with some moments to spare, and went live. Listen and watch the 7 minute clip here.