Reporting from the Road: NYC/Boston
I'm now in week three of a five-week book tour...
The New York/Boston gigs for my novel Finch and for Booklife were a lovely blur. I enjoy both cities, and we had a great attendance at both boookstore events, with raucous, fully engaged crowds. I read with Paul Tremblay and David Anthony Durham in Boston and with Geoff Manaugh and Jeffrey Ford in NYC (with Ron Hogan moderating a discussion of cities real and unreal). I also did an MIT lecture with great attendance at MIT's new media studies center. The lecture focused on aspects of private and public booklife and should be available via podcast soon. Afterwards, we had a Q&A session hosted by Kevin Smokler of booktour.com.
As ever, New York was dirty, gritty, and fantastically alive. I walked everywhere I could, ignoring the subway, just to reacquaint myself with the texture of the city. Whether walking through a high-end shopping district or being interviewed in a dive bar around 44th Street and 9th Ave, attending the National Book Awards with my wife or eating breakfast in a greasy diner, I was once again in love with the energy you could find on every street corner. After the bookstore event, we invited everyone to join us at a local bar, and a good thirty people did, including Ford and Manaugh and Hogan, but also people like Rick Bowes, Paul Witcover, and Lev Grossman. I really enjoyed meeting Lev for the first time, and loved that he seemed comfortable discussing both high and low culture. The whole evening was a lot of fun for me--so great to see so many old friends, too.
Boston I also had a chance to explore--I stayed at a great boutique hotel called the Chartermark, and highly recommend it to anyone who visits Boston. It's right on Copley Square in the center of everything, and I booked it the day before I arrived, which seemed to help ensure a reasonable rate. From there, I walked across the city, just taking in the sights. There's something about being alone in a big city at the beginning of winter that's invigorating. I got lost a couple of times, wandered into a somewhat anemic Chinatown, then found my bearings again just in time for, as I rummaged for my cell phone, some guy to walk past and drop a quarter in my outstretched coffee cup...which wasn't entirely empty. It made me realize my jacket might've gotten more rumpled than I'd thought. But, the quarter helped make up a little bit for an experience on the Amtrak train coming down. I put in a generous tip at the food car before ordering, then was told the credit card machine didn't work--but my last cash was in the tip jar, and the attendant wouldn't let me take it back out. Thus, I had a somewhat uncomfortable non-food, non-coffee four-hour ride to Boston.
The city itself made up for that, and the accompanying exhaustion, as did the company at both MIT and the bookstore event. One of my biggest supporters, Rob Davies, had distributed posters, and I was glad to finally meet him. It was also great to get to know David Anthony Durham and Paul Tremblay a little better. My only regret is not hitting the gym while in Boston. I'm going to have to make up for that while here in New Hampshire. I'm staying with the excellent nonfiction/fiction writer Matthew Cheney at the moment, in preparation for speaking at Plymouth State University tonight. It's a fairly unique event, as I'll be teaming up with long-time collaborator Eric Schaller. Eric did many of the illustrations in City of Saints & Madmen, among others, and Plymouth State has been running an exhibit related to this collaboration for the past month. I'll speak a little bit about City of Saints and the effects of having something so idiosyncratic out in the world, and then Eric will present a selection of his art and talk about the collaborative process--followed by discussion and Q&A.
After that, it's four days off before hitting Baltimore's Book Escape on Nov. 29th at 3:30 pm with mystery novelist Sarah Ruttan and mystery columnist Brian Lindemuth for readings and discussion of noir. I also just got the great news that my wife and I will indeed by featured on national NPR's Weekend Edition sometime in the near future, so check out the next couple of Sundays for that...
- National Book Award follow-up (with more to come)